A new study found that the immune response to three experimental Ebola vaccines last at least two and a half years, opening the door of possibility for further vaccine development — far beyond Ebola’s limited scope.
Katie Ewer, the co-author of the study, said the findings could encourage funding and insights that could expedite vaccines against other diseases with outbreak potential. Ewer’s study was conducted with colleague Matthew Snape, of the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group, and Emma Thompson, of the University of Glasgow.
“The Ebola vaccine work that intensified after the outbreak in West Africa has produced an explosion of vaccine development that could leave us much better prepared to fight other outbreaks of infectious diseases,” Ewer said. “It has helped policymakers and funders understand the need. And that support has helped validate new vaccine platforms, including one that is adaptable for a number of viral diseases.”
The Oxford study’s results were based on blood samples taken from healthy volunteers who had been vaccinated by one of the three drugs more than two years ago. The protection could last even longer than the currently established duration, but this is the longest scientists have been able to track human Ebola vaccine responses to date. Ewer noted that response is still strong, not weakened by years of circulation.
“These results will be invaluable when deciding which strategy to use to induce long-lasting protection, for example in healthcare workers in areas at ongoing risk of Ebola outbreaks,” Snape said. “Another important question is whether the persistence of this immune response can be enhanced by giving a ‘late-booster’ dose of vaccine 3 to 4 years after the initial immunization, and we will be studying this in further work in the U.K. and Senegal in the coming year.”
Funding for the study came from the Innovate U.K. award from the U.K. Department of Health, awarded to Snape.