22 January 2016

West Africa: Vaccine to Protect Against Future Ebola Outbreaks

There are high hopes that any future Ebola outbreak will be tackled easily as the pharmaceutical company, Merck has signed a five million-US Dollars deal with Vaccine Alliance, Gavi in which 300,000 vaccines will be stockpiled ready for emergency use or further clinical trials.

The terms of the deal announced during the recent World Economic Forum held at Davos in the Swiss Alps, commits Merck to keep 300,000 vaccines ready for emergency use or further clinical trials. The deal also requires Merck to submit an application to license the vaccine by the end of 2017, which would be the next step towards enabling Gavi to prepare a global stockpile. Merck has led trials of the VSV-EBOV vaccine - which combines a fragment of the Ebola virus with another safer virus in order to train the immune system to beat Ebola. Reports say early evidence from studies in West Africa suggest it may give 100 per cent protection, although more data is still being collected.

BBC quoted Dr Seth Berkley, the chief executive of Gavi, as saying that, "The suffering caused by the Ebola crisis was a wake-up call to many in the global health community. New threats require smart solutions, and our innovative financing agreement with Merck will ensure that we are ahead of the curve for future Ebola outbreaks." Gavi, is an alliance of public bodies and companies committed to saving lives through vaccination.

Accelerated international efforts to tackle any future outbreak comes in the wake of the largest Ebola attack in history that killed more than 11,000 people mostly in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The World Health Organisation recently declared the West African countries Ebola-free.

West Africa

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