Ebola vaccine trial hits Hohoe; GH¢200, phones for participants
Fear has gripped students of the Hohoe Midwifery Training College in the Volta region following a decision to use them as ‘Guinea Pigs’ for an upcoming Ebola vaccine trial in Ghana.
Starrfmonline.com can reveal officials of the University of Health and Allied Sciences in Ho are spearheading the trial.
The haemorrhagic fever is a severe often fatal illness in humans. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
One of the doctors who pleaded anonymity during our investigations in Hohoe confirmed the trial is imminent but assured “everything is being done to safeguard the health of the students.”
“The trial has been successful in Liberia and Guinea and other places. It was administered on animals and has been successful, so we have to use it on human beings to be sure it is effective,” the doctor said.
“Of course, trials are done on human beings and not just on animals,” was his blunt response when the investigative team of Starrfmonline.com asked about the dangers involved.
“We are hoping to hold a press conference to inform the public about the trial when we are set. For now I can’t tell you anything further.”
Documents cited by Starrfmonline.com indicate that the students have been promised Gh¢200 each and mobile phones. They will also receive other compensations such as transport fares among others depending on how the trial goes.
“I’m really scared and a lot of my colleagues are apprehensive too,” a student confided in Starrfmonline.com. “Currently, they are compiling our names for the trial but we don’t know whether the vaccine is safe or not; whether we’ll contract the disease or otherwise. Nobody is explaining anything to us. I think it is dangerous because we must know the potential risk.”
Starrfmonline.com’s checks at the Foods and Drugs Authority (FDA) reveal the national regulatory body is indeed testing the efficacy of the vaccine. “Yes we are testing the vaccine,” a spokesperson of the FDA James Lartey confirmed to Starrfmonline.com.
Lartey said he is not in a position to disclose the stage of the test.
Starrfmonline.com understands another test is scheduled for Kintampo in the Brong Ahafo region.
According to the Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Health and Allied Sciences, Professor Fred Binka, the trials will inform scientists on effective results regarding the Ebola vaccine. He said it forms part of preparations towards any case detection in Ghana.
The trial has the full backing of the World Health Organisation, he said.
The antiviral – Brincidofovir – has been tested on Ebola patients on a voluntary basis in Liberia while a similar drug, favipiravir, was used in Guinea. It is, however, unclear which one is being tested for use in Ghana.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a total of 26,763 cases have been confirmed as of May 18 with 11,074 reported deaths in the three worst hit countries – Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
The average Ebola case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.
The first EVD outbreaks occurred in remote villages in Central Africa, near tropical rainforests, but the most recent outbreak in West Africa has involved major urban as well as rural areas.