In a groundbreaking move, a group of medical staff at Denver Health became some of the first individuals to receive a live Ebola vaccine. This decision has raised eyebrows due to the unique nature of the vaccine and its reported “shedding” characteristics. While there are currently no Ebola outbreaks, Denver Health's High Risk Infection Team is taking a proactive approach to strengthen defenses against potential future outbreaks.
Ebola, known for its high fatality rate, caused global concern during the 2014 West Africa epidemic, which also resulted in cases within the United States. The team at Denver Health is not willing to take any chances and wants to ensure that they are prepared to handle a disease with a potential mortality rate of 70%. Dr. Maria Frank, one of the vaccine recipients, explained, “We want to be able to help if necessary, and you know, a lot of people in the U.S. feel inclined to go when something happens, so we may deploy healthcare workers to actually help during an outbreak.”
However, there have been concerns raised about the timing and purpose of this live Ebola vaccine. Dr. Richard Bartlett voiced these concerns during an interview on The Alex Jones Show. He highlighted the unique properties of the vaccine and questioned its correlation to a new lab being built in Colorado Springs, which is reportedly engaged in bat research and potentially working with Ebola and Nipah virus strains.
The Ebola vaccine being administered is a live virus vaccine that contains a weakened strain of the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) altered to include a gene from the Ebola virus. The FDA has approved Merck's ERVEBO for use in children 12 months and older. ERVEBO is a replication-competent, live, attenuated recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) vaccine.
One of the major concerns raised by critics like Bartlett is the shedding rate of the vaccine. According to the FDA package insert, the Ervebo vaccine has a shedding rate of 31%. Shedding refers to the vaccine virus's ability to be transmitted to others, including family members or casual contacts. This poses risks, especially when the general public is unaware of potential exposure.
The FDA report confirms that vaccine virus RNA was detectable in some participants' urine or saliva, with the highest shedding occurring on Day 7 post-vaccination and ceasing by Day 28. The highest shedding rate was observed in participants aged 12 to 17 years.
While the live Ebola vaccine administered by Denver Health's High Risk Infection Team is a proactive strategy to prepare for potential future outbreaks, concerns about shedding and potential transmission to others remain. It is crucial for healthcare professionals and the public to remain informed about the risks and benefits associated with this vaccine. As the field of medicine continues to evolve, it is essential to strike a balance between preparedness and ensuring the safety and well-being of individuals and communities.