First-ever Ebola vaccine approved by European regulators

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On November 11 European regulators approved the first Ebola vaccine.

Us pharmaceutical company Merck has begun marketing the vaccine following the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approval. Merck has named the vaccine Ervebo. Now that Ervebo has passed these hurdles it will be able to be stockpiled and hopefully distributed more widely.

Ebola is an extremely deadly virus that spreads from person to person through bodily fluids. Approximately half of people who become infected with Ebola die from it. The 2013-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa killed upwards of 11,300 people. Ervebo has the potential to save thousands of lives and has already been at work to do so.

This vaccine has been used in emergency situations of outbreak. First patented in 2003, it was utilized in the past year during the Democratic Republic of Congo’s outbreak. It was also used in Guinea in 2015. Throughout the past year of outbreak in the DRC the vaccine has been administered to hundreds of thousands of citizens and relief workers. While other vaccines for Ebola have been in development stages, this is the first to be tested during an outbreak. This Ebola vaccine is highly effective at preventing infection.

Seth Berkley, chief executive of Gavi (a vaccine alliance program based in Switzerland that sponsors vaccine distribution in low-income countries), said of the vaccine’s approval, “This is a vaccine with huge potential. It has already been used to protect more than 250,000 people in the DRC and could well make major Ebola outbreaks a thing of the past.”

Ervebo has proven to be very successful at preventing infection in the short term. More research is encouraged to continue advancing the longevity of the vaccine’s protection.

Merck is now seeking approval from the FDA for Ervebo. Gavi will deliberate next month on creating a global stockpile of the vaccine.

Merck’s chairman and chief executive officer, Ken Frazier, published a statement saying, “The European Commission’s marketing authorization of Ervebo is the result of an unprecedented collaboration for which the entire world should be proud.”

How might the approval of this vaccine effect overall global health? What can be done to support Ervebo being accessible to all countries that are in need of it?

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