Missy Broome

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Ebola Vaccine Trial Temporarily Suspended

Clinical trials of a potential Ebola vaccine have been put on hold at Geneva University Hospital due to four trial patients complaining of joint pain in the hands and feet.

According to The Guardian, the trials were suspended a week early out of an abundance of caution after four of the 59 volunteers began to experience the pain. A spokesman for the hospital said on Thursday that the patients are being closely monitored by the medical team in charge of the study.

The vaccine was developed by pharmaceutical companies Merck and NewLink. The trials are slated to begin again on January 5 in 15 patients, pending the results of testing performed on the four volunteers suffering from joint pain. The hope is that the pain is just temporary and benign.

The setback is disheartening after The World Health Organization recently announced that Sierra Leone has surpassed Liberia with the largest number of Ebola cases in West Africa. There have been nearly 7,900 cases reported in the region since the start of the outbreak.

The global vaccines alliance, Gavi, has announced that it is prepared to buy $300 million of the vaccine once the World Health Organization approves one for use. My colleague Bruce Levenson shared this story with me.

Doctor Dies from Ebola After Early Misdiagnosis

Doctor Martin Salia, the 44 year old physician from Sierra Leone who was returned to the U.S. to be treated for ebola, has succumbed to the disease. Dr Salia was a native of Sierra Leone who was married to a U.S. citizen and had permanent resident status in the U.S. He divided his time between his family in the U.S. and his work at the Kissy United Methodist Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Dr. Salia was a surgeon who worked with a variety of patients, not just ebola patients.

Doctor Salia was already in an advanced state of illness before being brought to the U.S. for treatment. One of the reasons he had reached the advanced state of illness was that he had tested negative for ebola when he first became ill. Out of ten patients who have been treated for ebola in the U.S. during the current outbreak, only two have died. Both did not begin therapy until their disease had become more advanced according to Sergio Lins Andrade.

When Dr Salia arrived at the hospital in Nebraska he was gravely ill, suffering from total kidney failure. Because he had not been known to be in close contact with an ebola patient for more than 21 days and tested negative for the virus when he first became ill, he was initially treated for malaria in Freetown. Malaria is a more common disease in West Africa. Often the blood test for the ebola virus is negative in the early stages of the disease, when treatment is more likely to be effective.