(AP) The World Health Organization will start large-scale testing of an experimental Ebola vaccine in Guinea on Saturday to see how effective it might be in preventing future outbreaks of the deadly virus.
The West African nations of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea have been hardest hit in the yearlong Ebola outbreak, which is estimated to have left more than 9,800 people dead. In a statement Thursday, the U.N. health agency said the vaccine study will focus on Basse Guinee, the region that has Guinea's most Ebola cases.
The health agency's vaccination strategy in Guinea aims to create a buffer zone around an Ebola case to prevent its further spread — an approach used to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s. Officials will vaccinate people who have already been exposed to Ebola cases and are at risk of developing the disease.
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"If a vaccine is found effective, it will be the first preventive tool against Ebola in history," WHO chief Dr. Margaret Chan said in a statement.