European drug regulators approve world’s first Ebola vaccine after its success in disease-hit Democratic Republic of Congo
- So-called Merck vaccine approved on Friday afternoon and hailed as triumph
- It was already being used under emergency guidelines in Congo amid outbreak
- The World Health Organization (WHO) said it was a ‘triumph for public health’
An Ebola vaccine has been approved by European drugs regulators in a move hailed as a ‘triumph for public health’.
The so-called Merck vaccine was given the green light this afternoon and is likely to get a full marketing licence from the European Commission within a few weeks.
It is already being used under emergency guidelines to try to halt the deadly outbreak currently ravaging the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The vaccine, developed by US drugmaker Merck & Co, has been given to more than 223,000 in the Congo and has proven to be effective.
An Ebola vaccine has been approved by European drugs regulators on Friday in what is being hailed as a ‘triumph for public health’ (file)
It is now also being reviewed under a fast-track system by regulators in America.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said the advancement was a ‘triumph for public health’ that would save many lives.
‘This vaccine has already saved many lives in the current Ebola outbreak, and the decision by European regulator will help it to eventually save many more,’ the WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
The Congo Ebola outbreak has killed more than 2,100 people since the middle of last year. It is the second largest Ebola outbreak in history, after a 2013-16 epidemic in West Africa that killed more than 11,300.
The Merck vaccine, which the company has now brand-named Ervebo, is likely to get a full marketing licence from the European Commission within a few weeks.
Merck said in a statement its priority now was to get regulatory approval of its Ervebo manufacturing site in Germany so that licensed supply of the vaccine ‘can be used to support global public health preparedness.’
Health authorities in Kinshasa said last week they planned to introduce an experimental second Ebola vaccine, developed by drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, in November in the country’s eastern provinces.
Ebola virus causes haemorrhagic fever and spreads from person to person through direct contact with body fluids. It kills around half of those it infects.