Ebola vaccine stockpile established

Article by Adam Duckett

A STOCKPILE of Ebola vaccine has been established by humanitarian organisations to help better prepare against future outbreaks.

Around 7,000 doses are currently being stored in Switzerland, and plans are to increase the stockpile in the coming months and years. The World Health Organization, which is one of the four organisations that helped lead the effort to establish the stockpile, said it could take 2–3 years to grow the stock to a recommended 500,000 doses.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is reminding us of the incredible power of vaccines to save lives from deadly viruses,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Ebola vaccines have made one of the most feared diseases on earth preventable. This new stockpile is an excellent example of solidarity, science and cooperation between international organisations and the private sector to save lives.”

The injectable single-dose vaccine was developed with financial support by the US Government and is manufactured by Merck, Sharp & Dohme (MSD).

Ebola is a severe, and often fatal disease that spreads from animals and then through human-to-human contact. Symptoms include vomiting, impaired kidney and liver function, and internal and external bleeding. An outbreak in Democratic Republic of the Congo infected some 3,481 people between 2018–20, killing 2,299 people.

On request for access to the stockpile, the target is to deliver doses within seven days.

“This is an important milestone. Over the past decade alone we have seen Ebola devastate communities in West and Central Africa, always hitting the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest,” said Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The vaccine has been administered to more than 350,000 people in Democratic Republic of the Congo and Guinea before it was licensed by authorities, under a protocol for compassionate use. It is now licensed by the European Medicines Agency, US Food and Drug Administration and eight African countries.

The stockpile has been established by the International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision which includes WHO, UNICEF, IFRC, and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), with financial support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Article by Adam Duckett

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