Efficacy of Vesicular Stomatitis Virus–Ebola Virus Postexposure Treatment in Rhesus Macaques Infected With Ebola Virus Makona

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The Ebola virus (EBOV) epidemic in West Africa increased the focus on vaccine development against this hemorrhagic fever–causing pathogen, and as a consequence human clinical trials for a few selected platforms were accelerated. One of these vaccines is vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV)–EBOV, also known as rVSV-ZEBOV, a fast-acting vaccine against EBOV and so far the only vaccine with reported efficacy against EBOV infections in humans in phase III clinical trials. In this study, we analyzed the potential of VSV-EBOV for postexposure treatment of rhesus macaques infected with EBOV-Makona. We treated groups of animals with 1 dose of VSV-EBOV either in a single injection at 1 or 24 hours after EBOV exposure or with 2 injections, half the dose at each time point; 1 control group received the same dose of the VSV-based Marburg virus vaccine at both time points; another group remained untreated. Although all untreated animals succumbed to EBOV infection, 33%–67% of the animals in each treatment group survived the infection, including the group treated with the VSV-based Marburg virus vaccine. This result suggests that protection from postexposure vaccination may be antigen unspecific and due rather to an early activation of the innate immune system. In conclusion, VSV-EBOV remains a potent and fast-acting prophylactic vaccine but demonstrates only limited efficacy in postexposure treatment.

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