BACKGROUND: The safety and efficacy of vaccines to prevent Ebola virus disease (EVD) were unknown when the incidence of EVD was peaking in Liberia. METHODS: We initiated a randomized, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial of the chimpanzee adenovirus 3 vaccine (ChAd3-EBO-Z) and the recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus vaccine (rVSV∆G-ZEBOV-GP) in Liberia. A phase 2 subtrial was embedded to evaluate safety and immunogenicity. Because the incidence of EVD declined in Liberia, the phase 2 component was expanded and the phase 3 component was eliminated. RESULTS: A total of 1500 adults underwent randomization and were followed for 12 months. The median age of the participants was 30 years; 36.6% of the participants were women. During the week after the administration of vaccine or placebo, adverse events occurred significantly more often with the active vaccines than with placebo; these events included injection-site reactions (in 28.5% of the patients in the ChAd3-EBO-Z group and 30.9% of those in the rVSV∆G-ZEBOV-GP group, as compared with 6.8% of those in the placebo group), headache (in 25.1% and 31.9%, vs. 16.9%), muscle pain (in 22.3% and 26.9%, vs. 13.3%), feverishness (in 23.9% and 30.5%, vs. 9.0%), and fatigue (in 14.0% and 15.4%, vs. 8.8%) (P<0.001 for all comparisons); these differences were not seen at 1 month. Serious adverse events within 12 months after injection were seen in 40 participants (8.0%) in the ChAd3-EBO-Z group, in 47 (9.4%) in the rVSV∆G-ZEBOV-GP group, and in 59 (11.8%) in the placebo group. By 1 month, an antibody response developed in 70.8% of the participants in the ChAd3-EBO-Z group and in 83.7% of those in the rVSV∆G-ZEBOV-GP group, as compared with 2.8% of those in the placebo group (P<0.001 for both comparisons). At 12 months, antibody responses in participants in the ChAd3-EBO-Z group (63.5%) and in those in the rVSV∆G-ZEBOV-GP group (79.5%) remained significantly greater than in those in the placebo group (6.8%, P<0.001 for both comparisons). CONCLUSIONS: A randomized, placebo-controlled phase 2 trial of two vaccines that was rapidly initiated and completed in Liberia showed the capability of conducting rigorous research during an outbreak. By 1 month after vaccination, the vaccines had elicited immune responses that were largely maintained through 12 months.
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