Merck's Ebola vaccine authorised by the US FDA

Merck's Ebola vaccine authorised by the US FDA

The Ervebo vaccine is administered as a single-dose injection.

The DRC's Ebola technical committee (CMRE) in its latest daily update noted that all 3 cases reported yesterday were in Mabalako, one of the few remaining hot spots.

Cases of Ebola are vanishingly rare in the U.S., and have generally been seen in individuals who travel to other countries, particularly health care workers who can become ill after treating patients with the infection, says the FDA.

Deputy Commissioner of FDA Anna Abram said that even though the risk of EVD in the low, the US government will remain highly committed to combat calamitous Ebola outbreaks in central Africa, including the recent outbreak in DR Congo.

"The FDA is committed to continuing our work across the USA government and with our worldwide partners to prevent future Ebola outbreaks and mitigate the current outbreak in the DRC, reflecting our nation's commitment to preparing for and responding to biological threats, like Ebola", he added.

The disease is highly contagious, and is transmitted through direct contact with blood, body fluids and tissues of infected wild animals or people, as well as with contaminated surfaces and materials like bedding and clothing. The vaccine, Ervebo, was developed by Merck and protects against Ebola virus disease caused by Zaire Ebolavirus in people over 18, the FDA said in a statement. "In acknowledging this event, I wish in particular to recognize the heroic efforts being made by frontline responders to the ongoing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We are proud and honored to play a role in supporting their vital activities, and we remain focused on the important work ahead", he said.

Ebola is endemic to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This makes it the first FDA-authorised vaccine against the deadly virus, reports Reuters news agency. The second-largest outbreak ever recorded has been ongoing in the DRC since previous year.

The safety of Ervebo was assessed in approximately 15,000 individuals in Africa, Europe, and North America.

In its weekly snapshot of the outbreak yesterday. the WHO said all 11 cases for the week ending Dec 17 are linked to a case in Mabalako's Aloya health area involving a patient who had what appears to be a rare relapse of the disease. The other deaths are considered probable cases. More than 258,000 people have been vaccinated in the outbreak zone so far.

This is how the Merck vaccine was successfully deployed in Guinea in 2015.

Published on December 16, 2019, this Health Advisory (#432) says 'healthcare providers caring for a patient with possible Ebola virus infection should first contact their local or state public health authorities before any testing is performed'. Ervebo was determined to be 100% effective in preventing cases of Ebola, with symptom onset greater than ten days after vaccination.

Using unauthorised vaccines in the Ebola outbreak in eastern DR Congo has proved a controversial move.

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