The vaccination of three healthcare workers in Mali this week began the human trial phase of what has been a highly accelerated effort to find a vaccine to stem the tide of the growing Ebola crisis. The urgent need for an effective vaccine has been underscored by the death toll, with official estimates exceeding 3,400 in West Africa. Additionally, the first two cases of infection outside of West Africa have turned up in the last two weeks, sparking fears that the epidemic may soon become a global disaster.
Backers like Igor Cornelsen are hopeful that a final vaccine will be ready by the end of the year, with the first priority being to provide protection for the health care workers most at risk as they combat the disease on the front lines. Although a vaccine may not be available for months, the swift efforts of the research community to respond to the crisis provide hope that the epidemic will be stopped before it spreads significantly further.