Leading international health and humanitarian organizations under the International Coordinating Group (ICG); World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) yesterday announced the establishment of a global Ebola Vaccine stockpile to ensure timely outbreak response.
Recommended by the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization for use, the vaccine protects against the Zaire ebolavirus species.
WHO noted that the injectable single-dose Ebola vaccine is manufactured by Merck, Sharp and Dohme (MSD) Corp. and developed with financial support from the U.S Government.
Dr Yonas Tegegn, the WHO Country representative to Uganda said, “this is a great step in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus disease.”
The development is a collaboration of the International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision, which includes the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), with financial support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
The European Medicines Agency licensed the Ebola vaccine in November 2019, and the vaccine is now prequalified by WHO, and licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration as well as in eight African countries.
WHO revealed that before achieving licensure, the vaccine was administered to more than 350,000 people in Guinea and in the 2018-2020 Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo under a protocol for “compassionate use.”
According to the WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, this new stockpile is “an excellent example of solidarity, science and cooperation between international organizations and the private sector to save lives.”
The stockpile is stored in Switzerland and ready to be shipped to countries for emergency response.
Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, said that the Ebola vaccine stockpile is a remarkable achievement that will “allow us to deliver vaccines to those who need them the most as quickly as possible.”
An initial 6890 doses are now available for outbreak response with further quantities to be delivered into the stockpile this month and throughout 2021 and beyond.
“The decision to allocate the vaccine will be made within 48 hours of receiving a request from a country; vaccines will be made available together with ultra-cold chain packaging by the manufacturer for shipment to countries within 48 hours of the decision. The targeted overall delivery time from the stockpile to countries is seven days,” WHO stated.