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MADRID: Spanish researchers are working on a vaccine against all five strains of the killer Ebola virus in what would be a world first, Madrid’s October 12 Hospital said on Wednesday.

A prototype vaccine developed by pharmaceutical group Merck is already in use, but acts only against the most virulent, “Zaire” strain.

Despite not having market approval, Merck’s rVSV-ZEBOV was administered to people in the Democratic Republic of Congo in May, with UN approval, in a bid to contain an outbreak of the same virus that killed more than 11,300 in three West African countries from 2013-2015, sparking international panic.

For several months, a team from the October 12 Hospital has been working with researchers at two other hospitals in the capital to examine and learn from blood samples taken from three people cured of Ebola in Spain.

The three Spanish patients had produced “very effective” viral antibodies, though in a “small quantity” and only against the Zaire strain they were contaminated with.

Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2018