New AIDS vaccine ‘cures’ five patients, report claims.

Three weeks after Prof. Maduike Ezeibe of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Abia State claimed to have discovered a cure for Human Immuno-deficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), Spanish scientists over the weekend said five patients living with the disease are virus-free seven months after taking a new vaccine.

According to a study published in New Scientist but first reported by DailyMailUK Online, the treatment, developed by researchers in Spain, allowed the patients to stop taking regular antiretroviral (ARV) drugs – the current method of suppressing HIV.

Scientists have yet to test the results in a large-scale clinical trial, but they say the vaccine may be a “functional cure.”

Dr. Beatriz Mothe, from the IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain, said: “It’s the proof of concept that through therapeutic vaccination we can really re-educate our T cells to control the virus. This is the first time that we see this is possible in humans.”

Mothe and her colleagues used an HIV vaccine made by Professor Tomáš Hanke from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom (UK).

The study included 13 participants, who had taken ARVs for a little over three years on average – all within six months of being infected.
After four weeks, eight of the patients saw the virus rebound. But the other five patients have gone six to 28 weeks without having to restart the treatment.

The virus became temporarily undetectable, but it has never gone above 2,000 copies per milliliter, which is the criterion to restart treatment.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, told The Guardian yesterday that there is no cure for HIV/AIDS as claimed by Ezeibe. “No, there is no cure for HIV. It is important that we do not deceive our people. There is no cure for HIV. However, treatment is available that allows those infected to live healthy and productive lives. We encourage everyone to get tested, know their HIV status and if positive, get treatment in one of many centres in Nigeria. Treatment is free,” he said.

Ihekweazu said NCDC wants to avoid giving false hope to patients who may now abandon their Anti Retro Viral (ARVs) drugs thus leading to an increase in prevalence and mortality from the disease. He said the agency also does not want a situation where the trust of partners and donors in the country’s health system is lost.

How about the claim of HIV cure by Prof. Ezeibe? The NCDC boss said: “Science is universal and there is no place for sentiments when it comes to science. While I would love for this breakthrough to come from Nigeria, there should be no emotional considerations in assessing the validity of scientific evidence.


Source: The Guardian

1 in 5 African children ‘does not get vaccines’ – WHO

One in five children in Africa does not receive basic life-saving vaccines, resulting to the loss of many lives to vaccine-preventable diseases.

The World Health Organisation says while Africa has made gains in the last 15 years, toward increasing access to immunisation, progress has stagnated, and the continent is falling behind on meeting global immunisation targets.

The organisation therefore charged African leaders to commit to funding immunisation to save lives in the region.

Heeding the call, heads of state across Africa have pledged to ensure everyone in the region has access to immunisation.

They made the pledge at the 28th African Union (AU) summit in Ethiopia.

The leaders adopted a declaration on universal access to immunisation in Africa and endorsed the Addis Declaration on Immunization.

The call is coming at a time when UNICEF announced an outbreak of measles in hard to access areas in Nigeria’s north-east region.

The north-east has witnessed a major crisis in the past seven years.

Measles alone accounts for approximately 61,000 preventable deaths in Africa, including Nigeria, and fewer than 15 African countries fund more than percent off their national immunisation programmes.

The Addis declaration on immunisation calls for countries to increase political and financial investments in their immunisation programmes.

It includes 10 commitments, including increasing vaccine-related funding, strengthening supply chains and delivery systems, and making universal access to vaccines a cornerstone of health and development efforts.

The Addis declaration was signed by ministers of health and other line ministers at the ministerial conference on immunization in Africa (MCIA) in February 2016.

“African leaders are showing outstanding leadership by endorsing this landmark commitment which will allow more African children to be reached with life-saving vaccines no matter where they live,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, chair of Gavi, the vaccine alliance board.

“We must now ensure that the commitments translate into sustainable financing for immunization. Gavi stands ready to support African countries in their efforts to implement equitable health approaches and maintain strong immunization coverage so we can create together a more prosperous future for communities across our continent.”


Source: The Cable

End times for Ebola as prototype vaccine records 100 per cent success rate.

A prototype vaccine for Ebola may be “up to 100 percent effective” in protecting against the deadly virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday.

If all goes well, the vaccine could become available in 2018 under a fast-track approval process, it said.

In a major clinical trial, nearly 6,000 people in Guinea were given the test vaccine last year, at the tail end of a lethal epidemic of Ebola.

But in a control group of volunteers that did not receive the vaccine, 23 Ebola cases occurred, researchers reported in The Lancet medical journal.

“If we compare zero to 23, this strongly suggests that the vaccine is very effective, that it could be up to 100 percent effective,” Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO’s assistant director-general and lead author of the study, told AFP.

Her team of three dozen researchers calculated a 90-percent likelihood during a full-fledged epidemic that the vaccine, dubbed rVSV-ZEBOV, would work in more than 80 percent of cases.

“After 40 years, we appear to now have an effective vaccine for Ebola virus disease to build upon,” Thomas Geisbert, a scientist at Galveston National Laboratory in Texas who did not take part in the study, wrote in a commentary, also in The Lancet.

– ‘Compassionate use’ –
First identified in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Ebola virus erupted periodically in outbreaks of up to a couple hundred cases, mainly across west and east Africa.

In early 2014, however, a handful of infections in southern Guinea mushroomed rapidly into an epidemic.

Over the next two years, more than 28,000 people fell ill, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Some 11,300 died.

With a mortality rate above 40 percent, the disease — one of a category of so-called haemorrhagic fevers — has an incubation period of up to three weeks. It causes violent and painful symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhoea, organ failure and internal bleeding.

The new vaccine was initially developed in Canada by public health authorities before being taken over by pharmaceutical giant Merck.

It is slated to be submitted by Merck to health authorities in the United States and Europe sometime next year under a fast-track approval process.

“We may have a vaccine which is registered in 2018,” Kieny told journalists at a press conference Thursday, noting that the standard approval process for a new drug takes a decade, if not more.

In the meantime, Merck has committed to ensuring that 300,000 doses of the vaccine are available for emergencies under a protocol called “compassionate use”.

“They will be able to produce a million in very short period of time,” Kieny noted.

– Unanswered questions –
There are still questions to be resolved concerning the vaccine, including side effects.

Initial tests last year did not include children, while the most recent trials covered those over six years old.

Of the more than 6,000 people injected with the Ebola vaccine only two showed serious adverse effects, the study reported. Both recovered fully.

But it is still unknown if the vaccine is safe for children six and under, pregnant women, or people with the AIDS virus — all groups that were excluded from the most recent trials.

Another unknown is how long innoculation lasts.

“With the Canadian Merck vaccine, you have a protection very early after vaccination, but we don’t know if it will last after six months,” Kieny said.

Other Ebola vaccines under development — some of which have been tested in humans — could prove more effective over a longer period.

British firm Glaxosmithkline and Johnson & Johnson, based in the United States, each have experimental products in the pipeline.

China and Russia have also developed vaccines, with the Russian one having just finished the second phase of three-step clinical trials.

Some of these vaccines require two doses three weeks apart, and may confer a longer immunity.

“That might be better suited to immunise health workers in advance of an outbreak,” Kieny said.

Health officials also point to the fact that other strains of the virus — including one in Sudan — will require the development of separate vaccines.

Medical experts optimistic about new HIV vaccine.

Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, says he is very optimistic that the new HIV vaccine being tested in South Africa this week will show positive results.


He says it will take about five to six years to see the results.


The study, called HVTN 702, aims to enroll 5400 sexually active men and women between the ages of 18 and 35.


It will be the largest and most advanced HIV vaccine clinical trial to take place in South Africa.


Even if this vaccine reaches 50% protection or 60% protection, that is much better than 0% protection we have from any other kind of vaccine. It will be an important step to the right direction and major step forward.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa


He says South Africa will continue to ensure that South Africa is involved in testing different vaccines.

Lassa Fever Vaccine Trial In Nigeria Right – Expert

Prof. Dennis Agbonlahor, a member of the National Committee on the Control of Lassa fever, says the trials of newly developed Lassa virus vaccine in the country was a welcome idea.
Agbonlahor said this while presenting a paper titled “Combating Lassa fever: A National Health Challenge”, organised by the University of Benin on Friday in Benin.
He said that the vaccine developed by a combined team from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases and the Public Health Agencies of Canada was a promising vaccine for controlling Lassa fever.
According to him, “this live and harmless vaccine, which is wrapped in a strain of vaccinia virus, contains a protein produced by the Lassa virus.
“Once injected into the body, the presence of the Lassa protein stimulates a protective response from the immune system. The humans that will take it as a vaccine will be protected and antibodies will be developed that will protect the persons against future effect of Lassa virus if infected.”
He also commended the Federal Government for creating more awareness about the disease calling for sustenance of the awareness initiative.
He added that the virus had killed more than 100,000 Nigerians since the discovery of the virus in the country, calling for more funding and political will to combat the scourge.
Meanwhile, the Director of Disease Control in the state Ministry of Health, Dr Osamwonyi Irowa, said that the State Government had not relented on its effort to make the state a Lassa virus-free state.
He said that a lot of structures had been put in place to combat the virus across the 18 local government areas of the state.
“We have improved our surveillance mechanism and contact tracking to follow up suspected cases. To this end, no new case has been reported in the state for the past days,” he said.



Nigeria is working on Ebola drug -NIPRD DG

Prof. Karniyus Gamaniel, the Director-General, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research Development, has said that the institute is carrying out clinical trials of vaccine for Ebola Virus Disease.


Gamaniel, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday.


He said the institute was carrying out the research in collaboration with the 2014 Ebola Response Committee.


The director general said the response committee was set up in 2014 by the former Minister of Health; Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, after the first Ebola case was recorded in Nigeria.


NAN recalls that Mr Patrick Sawyer, a 40-year-old Liberian, was the first confirmed case of the highly contagious and deadly disease in Nigeria.


Gamaniel, who was also a member of the response committee, said the move to produce a vaccine for the virus was to equip the country in any future crisis.


He said that after Nigeria was declared Ebola free by WHO, the committee remained active as it discovered that no country in the world had produced any vaccine to treat the disease.


“During the outbreak, the committee was given the mandate of looking all over the world to find documents that could be used to identify the best treatment for Ebola.


“This is because we needed an antidote immediately as people were already dying from the disease.


“The committee called on people who may have any traditional or orthodox method to resolving the crisis. We were to analyse the methods and give a report.


“We identified and got reports on methods that were used either directly or indirectly on Ebola; interestingly there was no single registered drug or product all over the world at the time.


“There was trial going on in Japan at the time but no company had registered any product which could be used to fight Ebola.


“What we did was to use some of the products that were in clinical trial at the time. These products were mostly produced to fight the Influenza virus.


“We identified this and made a recommendation to the Federal Government who gave the go-ahead to use the drugs that were being experimented on.


“Government had little or no option because the death toll continued to rise; so with the drugs, quarantine, fumigation, sensitisation and seclusion of infected persons in Nigeria recorded success,” Gamaniel said.


The director general said through collaborative efforts, a drug had been produced with the combination of three different drugs.


He said the drug was currently being clinical tested as it needed to undergo direct study in a Biosafety Level 4 laboratory.


Gamaniel said the study was a crucial step in the final phase of the production of the drug, adding that it would also give credence to the research being carried out.


“Since we had drugs that were already being clinically tried we improved on these drugs and certified that combining them could produce a treatment for the virus.


“We had to ensure that these drugs when administered did not cause harm to the human body like the brain, heart, liver and other parts.


“ We have had to test these drugs and monitor their effects. They have already been approved in the past only that we are now using them in a combined form.


“The drug we produced from these combinations is already in clinical trial although there is need for a direct study in a Biosafety Level 4 Laboratory which we do not have in the country.


“This laboratory is not found just anywhere; it is a special laboratory because the disease is very deadly it causes death at a fast rate and so it constitutes a great risk and one needs to be careful when handling such trials.


“You will recall that some doctors and nurses who assisted during the outbreak lost their lives. There is need for an exclusive laboratory to handle the trial because it is a biological weapon.


The institute has often times depended on collaborations with foreign organisations to carry out some clinical trials on drugs and this time we are still getting this support,” he added.


The director general said the success of the study and its certification by relevant national and international organisation would impact positively on the image of the country.


He said that it would also give citizens the assurance that they were safe in the event of any future crisis.



Good News! Ebola Vaccine Works, Offering 100% Protection In African Trial

A highly unusual clinical trial in Guinea has shown for the first time that an Ebola vaccine protects people from the deadly virus. The study, published online today by The Lancet, shows that the injection offered contacts of Ebola cases 100% protection starting 10 days after they received a single shot of the vaccine, which is produced by Merck. Scientists say the vaccine could help to finally bring an end to the epidemic in West Africa, now more than 18 months old.

“This will go down in history as one of those hallmark public health efforts,” says Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy in Twin Cities, Minnesota, who wasn’t involved in the study. “We will teach about this in public health schools.”

“It’s a wonderful result and a fantastic illustration of how vaccines can be developed very quickly and can be used in an outbreak situation to control the disease,” says Adrian Hill, a vaccine researcher at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, also not involved in the work.

The vaccine, first developed by researchers at the Public Health Agency of Canada, consists of the Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV), which causes disease in livestock but not people, with the Ebola surface protein stitched into it. It is one of two vaccines currently being tested in the Ebola-stricken countries; the other one is produced by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). The study of the Merck vaccine was led by Ana Maria Henao-Restrepo of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, together with colleagues at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo, the Guinean Ministry of Health, and others.

The decision to start the trial was taken in October, but it didn’t get off the ground until March. By then, Ebola cases had already begun to plummet, and they were scattered across a large area in Guinea. To show efficacy in a standard randomized controlled trial, the researchers would have had to enroll far more people than was feasible.

Instead, they opted for a design called ring vaccination, in which only contacts of new Ebola patients, as well as the contacts’ contacts, were vaccinated. The rings, or clusters, were randomized; in 48 of them, vaccination occurred as soon as possible after the detection of the Ebola case in their community. In the 42 other clusters, the vaccination teams came to give the shots three weeks later. The researchers then counted the number of new Ebola cases in each ring; because they weren’t sure how long it takes for the vaccine’s protection to kick in, they only included cases that occurred at least 10 days after vaccination in their primary analysis of the data. There were zero such cases among the 2014 people who were vaccinated right away, and 16 among the 2380 who got the shot 3 weeks later. That translates to 100% vaccine efficacy, at least in this study, the researchers write.

The idea of a ring vaccination design, never before used in a formal vaccine study, “was absolutely very creative,” says Osterholm, and it allowed the team to follow the epidemic wherever it went. “Had this been a standard, straightforward randomized controlled trial, we would never had this answer.”

“It surprised me how quickly you can intervene with a vaccination and have an effect,” says Jeremy Farrar, the head of the Wellcome Trust research charity, which co-funded the study. “It’s possible to do that sort of complex work in very, very complex environments—ethically, socially, culturally and scientifically. You can do it. That is a revelation for many people.”