The first healthy human volunteer has been injected with an experimental Ebola vaccine today as part of a fast-tracked British trial.
Ruth Atkins, a 48-year-old NHS communications manager from Marcham, Oxfordshire, was injected at Oxford’s Vaccine Group Centre for Clinical Vaccinology and Tropical Medicine today.
The trial, which will ultimately involve 60 volunteers including two on Friday, is part of a series of safety tests of potential drugs aimed at preventing infection with the virus.
Organisers stressed there is no likelihood any of the subjects will catch Ebola, since the vaccine contains no infectious Ebola virus.
Ms Atkins, who has also worked as a nurse in the NHS, said: ‘I feel absolutely fine, it felt no different to being vaccinated before going on holiday.: It’s that one step and I’m part of that first step.
She has children aged 12 and 15 and was only accepted for the trial on Monday after completing screening tests last week.
Ms Atkins, who will keep a diary of her side effects over the next eight weeks and undergo regular blood tests, said she first heard about the trial while listening to the radio.
‘I volunteered because the situation in West Africa is so tragic and I thought being part of this vaccination process was something small I could do to hopefully make a huge impact,’ she said.
‘I did not realise until today how many people behind the scenes have worked extra and unsociable hours to get this to trial so quickly.
‘The team has been so helpful and supportive, coming in for early morning appointments to allow me to take part before I go to work.’
She admitted her friends and family had raised concerns.
‘My 15-year-old son thought it was Ebola I’m having and he asked am I going to die and where is my will and how much do I get?’ she said.
‘My 12-year-old daughter was concerned but also said well done mum for what you’re doing.’
Ebola has killed more than 2,400 people in West Africa this year, in the world’s largest Ebola outbreak since the disease was discovered in Zaire in 1976.
The U.S. yesterday vowed to deploy 3,000 armed troops to Liberia, the country hardest hit by the outbreak, to help tackle the epidemic.
The vaccine is designed to specifically target the Zaire species of the virus – the one responsible for the current epidemic.
The strain has a mortality rate of up to 90 per cent, according to the World Health Organisation. Courtesy: Daily Mail.