A group of medical staff at Denver Health made history last November by being among the first to receive a live Ebola vaccine, a decision drawing attention due to its unusual nature and the vaccine’s reported “shedding” characteristics.
Although there are currently no Ebola outbreaks, the proactive approach of Denver Health’s High Risk Infection Team has been both lauded and questioned.
The live Ebola vaccine, administered to members of Denver Health’s High Risk Infection Team, is part of a proactive strategy to bolster 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. While the world is currently free of any Ebola outbreaks, the team at Denver Health is not taking any chances.
“We want to make sure that people have the chance to be protected in case we need to take care of a patient that has a disease with a mortality potentially of 70%,” said Dr. Maria Frank, one of the vaccine recipients. “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 health care workers to actually help during an outbreak.”
However, Dr. Richard Bartlett revealed some concerns on The Alex Jones Show. He discussed the unique properties of this live Ebola vaccine, which is being administered for the first time in Colorado.
Bartlett questioned the timing and purpose, correlating it to a new lab being built near Denver in Colorado Springs, which is reported to be engaged in bat research and potentially working with Ebola and Nipah virus strains.
The Ebola vaccine is a live virus vaccine that is administered as a single injection into a muscle. The vaccine contains a weakened strain of the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) that has been altered to contain a gene from the Ebola virus. As of August 2023, the FDA has approved Merck’s ERVEBO (Ebola Zaire Vaccine, Live) for use in children 12 months and older. ERVEBO is a replication-competent, live, attenuated recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) vaccine.
The “Ervebo” vaccine, as it’s known, reportedly has a shedding rate of 31%, according to the FDA package insert. This shedding refers to the vaccine virus’s ability to be transmitted to others, including family members or casual contacts. Critics like Bartlett highlight the risks associated with such shedding, particularly when the general public remains unaware of potential exposure.
The FDA report indeed 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.
From the FDA package insert:
“Shedding of vaccine virus into the urine or saliva was evaluated in 359 participants enrolled in 8 clinical studies who were vaccinated with ERVEBO or lower dose formulations. Vaccine virus RNA was detected by RT-PCR in the urine or saliva of some participants at timepoints ranging from Day 1 through Day 14 postvaccination. In the 3 studies that assessed shedding at Day 28, no samples tested positive. In Study 6, 31.7% (19/60) of participants 12 months through 17 years of age enrolled in a substudy shed vaccine virus in saliva following vaccination. Viral shedding was greatest on Day 7 and declined thereafter, with no shedding detected after Day 28. Vaccine virus RNA was detected by RT-PCR in vesicular fluid samples from some participants. In one participant, a sample collected 20 days after vaccination tested positive for vaccine virus RNA by RTPCR.”