A Radical Approach to Ebola: Saving Humans and Other Animals

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Sarah J. L. Edwards, Charles H. Norell, Phyllis Illari, Brendan Clarke & Carolyn P. Neuhaus


As the usual regulatory framework did not fit well during the last Ebola outbreak, innovative thinking still needed. In the absence of an outbreak, randomised controlled trials of clinical efficacy in humans cannot be done, while during an outbreak such trials will continue to face significant practical, philosophical, and ethical challenges. This article argues that researchers should also test the safety and effectiveness of novel vaccines in wild apes by employing a pluralistic approach to evidence. There are three reasons to test vaccines in wild populations of apes: i) protect apes; ii) reduce Ebola transmission from wild animals to humans; and iii) accelerate vaccine development and licensing for humans. Data obtained from studies of vaccines among wild apes and chimpanzees may even be considered sufficient for licensing new vaccines for humans. This strategy will serve to benefit both wild apes and humans.

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