Are new experimental vaccines causing or preventing Ebola?

Two experimental vaccines are entering the human trial phase in Liberia this month in an attempt to further quell the Ebola epidemic that has claimed…

Two experimental vaccines are entering large-scale human trials in Liberia. (Shutterstock)

Two experimental vaccines are entering the human trial phase in Liberia this month in an attempt to further quell the Ebola epidemic that has claimed nearly 9,000 lives in West Africa.

The vaccines are not expected to be an immediate solution, but if effective, should help the rate of Ebola diagnosis drop significantly.

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Both vaccines entering the large-scale trial have proven effective in smaller human laboratory trials and it is now time to test their efficacy among a larger pool of people.

As with most new vaccinations, fear of the unknown has many people leery of the trial, and there has been concerns expressed about the vaccines causing Ebola rather than preventing it.

Because vaccines (and the Ebola vaccines are no exception) typically contain genetic material of the virus being targeted, some people worry Ebola could develop if there is not a proper immune response.

This fear is the result of other vaccination cases, where individuals sometimes develop mild symptoms of the illness, such as with the current measles inoculation. According to materials from the industry expert group, Vaccines Europe, approximately 5 percent of people who receive the measles vaccine develop a rash associated with the illness suggesting infection. This rash is incorrectly viewed as a failure of the vaccine, where in reality, it is a part of the immune response to a weakened strain of the virus. Vaccines that notoriously caused illness, like the polio vaccine, have long since been replaced with safer versions.