The World’s First Ebola Vaccine Has Been Approved
Since August 2018, more than 2,000 people have died from the virus in the DRC.
The world’s first Ebola vaccine has been approved—and it could drastically help countries at high risk for the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Tuesday that it had prequalified Ervebo as the first vaccine for Ebola, saying it meets its “quality, safety, and efficacy standards.” The news came two days after the European Commission granted marketing authorization for the vaccine.
“Five years ago, we had no vaccine and no therapeutics for Ebola,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. “With a prequalified vaccine and experimental therapeutics, Ebola is now preventable and treatable.”
Ervebo is manufactured by U.S. pharmaceutical company Merck and is currently being used in a compassionate use” capacity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where an outbreak of Ebola has been ongoing. The outbreak is the second-largest and second deadliest on record.
Ebola is a virus that can spread through contact with blood or other bodily fluids from an infected person. According to the WHO, death rates from Ebola range from 25% to 90%. Since August 2018, more than 2,000 people have died from it in the DRC and more than 11,000 people died from 2013-2016 in an Ebola epidemic that spread through multiple West African nations. Over the last year, more than 250,000 have been vaccinated using the Merck vaccine.
A second experimental vaccine, produced by Johnson & Johnson, is also expected to be deployed in Goma soon.