A woman who yesterday became the first healthy human volunteer injected with an experimental Ebola vaccine in the UK has revealed that her son expressed fear that she would die and asked for her will.
Daily Mail reports that 48-year-old Ruth Atkins (pictured), was injected at Oxford’s Vaccine Group Centre for Clinical Vaccinology and Tropical Medicine.
The trial, which will ultimately involve 60 volunteers is part of a series of safety tests of potential drugs aimed at preventing infection with the virus.
Organisers stressed there is no likelihood any of the subjects will catch Ebola, since the vaccine contains no infectious Ebola virus.
Ms Atkins, who has also worked as a nurse in the NHS, said: ‘I feel absolutely fine, it felt no different to being vaccinated before going on holiday.: It’s that one step and I’m part of that first step.
She has children aged 12 and 15 and was only accepted for the trial on Monday after completing screening tests last week.
Ms Atkins, who will keep a diary of her side effects over the next eight weeks and undergo regular blood tests, said she first heard about the trial while listening to the radio.
‘I volunteered because the situation in West Africa is so tragic and I thought being part of this vaccination process was something small I could do to hopefully make a huge impact,’ she said.
‘I did not realise until today how many people behind the scenes have worked extra and unsociable hours to get this to trial so quickly.
‘The team has been so helpful and supportive, coming in for early morning appointments to allow me to take part before I go to work.’
She admitted her friends and family had raised concerns.
‘My 15-year-old son thought it was Ebola I’m having, and he asked am I going to die and where is my will and how much do I get?’ she said.
‘My 12-year-old daughter was concerned but also said well done mum for what you’re doing.’
The vaccine is designed to specifically target the Zaire species of the virus – the one responsible for the current epidemic.
The strain has a mortality rate of up to 90 per cent, according to the World Health Organisation.
The British trial, led by Professor Adrian Hill of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University, is testing the vaccine on healthy volunteers with the goal of determining whether it is safe, and whether it provokes a protective immune response.
Prof Hill stressed the participants were safe, adding: ‘We are not doing the trial itself any faster.
‘It’s the arrangements, the approval for the trial from manufacturers, regulatory bodies and the ethical council that has happened in record time when under any other circumstances it would have taken years.
‘They have put this at the top of their pile. There has been a lot of help from the World Health Organisation and the Department of Health. Some very senior people have said we really have to do this now otherwise people will continue to die.’
Source: Daily Mail