As 2016 winds to a close, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has finally offered up some good news with the announcement that trials of a new vaccine against the Ebola virus have proven very successful.
Named rVSV-ZEBOV, the Canadian-developed vaccine is the result of four decades of research and over a year of trials carried out at the tail end of the last major outbreak. It has been described as providing 100% protection against the lethal disease.
Among a sample of 12,000 people, no Ebola cases were recorded among the 5,837 participants who were given the vaccine while 23 people in a separate control group that did not receive vaccine ended up contracting the virus.
First discovered in 1976, Ebola research was put on the back burner for many years due to a lack of funding. Money was pumped back into vaccine development after 9/11 when it was considered that the virus could be used as a biological weapon.
It took the latest deadly spread of the disease, which killed 11,000 people, for an effective vaccine to be put to use.
The process of officially approving a vaccine can take years. But faced with the gravity of the last outbreak, a stockpile of 300,000 doses has been set up for emergency use and regulatory authorities say it should be readily available by 2018.
If approved, it's though that the vaccine will greatly reduce the likelihood of ever seeing another outbreak. "This trial, confirming the 100 percent efficacy of the rVSV Ebola vaccine, is a simply remarkable outcome," Dr. Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust, said of the outcome.
While the news gives a great deal of hope for the future, there is still work to be done on the vaccine with some concerned about the drug's durability.
In the meantime, the vaccine still has the potential to save some thousands of lives.