Ebola Vaccines

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Last reviewed
July 8, 2021

Ebola Vaccines

Ebola vaccines are approved and administered to protect people from contracting the Ebola virus disease (EVD) in various countries. The Ebola virus is a zoonotic pathogen that causes severe hemorrhagic fever in humans, known as Ebola virus disease, says the U.S. CDC.

Ebola vaccines include replication-deficient adenovirus vectors, replication-competent vesicular stomatitis (VSV), human parainfluenza (HPIV-3) vectors, and virus-like nanoparticle preparations, such as the following:

Ervebo (rVSVΔG-ZEBOV-GP) is a recombinant, replication-competent Ebola vaccine.

Zabdeno and Mvabea Ebola vaccine therapy is a prime-boost vaccination approach.

Ad5-EBOV is an adenovirus type 5 vector-based Ebola virus disease vaccine.

Ebanga (mAb114) is a human monoclonal antibody for treating Zaire Ebolavirus infections in adults and children. Ebanga is a human IgG1 MAb targeted to the Zaire ebolavirus glycoprotein, available in a lyophilized form.

Ebola Vaccine History

On December 19, 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the approval of Ervebo to prevent EVD caused by Zaire ebolavirus in individuals 18 years of age and older. This report, published by the U.S. CDC on January 8, 2021, summarizes the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations for using the rVSVΔG-ZEBOV-GP Ebola vaccine (Ervebo) in the USA.

On July 1, 2020, Johnson & Johnson Janssen's Zabdeno and Mvabea Ebola vaccine therapy, a prime-boost vaccination approach for preventing infectious diseases, was granted authorization by the European Medicines Agency. Janssen’s Ebola vaccine regimen is specifically designed to induce long-term immunity against the Ebola virus in adults and children aged one year and above.

CanSino Biologics's Ad5-EBOV Ebola vaccine received approval in China in October 2017. Ad5-EBOV is an adenovirus type 5 vector-based Ebola virus disease vaccine that protects against Ebola by relying on the recombinant replication-defective human adenovirus type-5 vector immune response. In addition, Ad5-EBOV is manufactured as a lyophilized powder, highly stable, and does not require storage at ultra-low temperatures. This feature renders it viable for use in resource-limited tropical areas.

The WHO published the revised Ebola Vaccine FAQ on January 11, 2020.

Ebola Outbreaks in Africa

The 12th Ebola virus disease outbreak was declared in February 2021. Breaking news updates can be found on this Vax-Before-Travel webpage.

Ebola Vaccine News

July 6, 2021 - New York-based Mount Sinai researchers uncovered the complex cellular mechanisms of the Ebola virus, which could help explain its severe toll on humans and identify potential pathways to treatment and prevention. The study team reported how a protein of the Ebola virus, VP24, interacts with the double-layered membrane of the cell nucleus, leading to significant damage to cells and virus replication and the propagation of disease. “The Ebola virus is extremely skilled at dodging the body’s immune defenses, and in our study, we characterize an important way in which that evasion occurs through disruption of the nuclear envelope, mediated by the VP24 protein,” says co-senior author Adolfo García-Sastre, Ph.D., Professor of Microbiology, and Director of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. 

June 15, 2021 - The Southwest National Primate Research Center at Texas Biomedical Research Institute (Texas Biomed) has been awarded more than $37 million from the US National Institutes of Health to continue operations into 2026. The P51 grant, given by the NIH Office of Research Infrastructure Programs, provides essential funding to house and care for nearly 2,500 non-human primates that are part of life-science research programs at Texas Biomed and partners around the globe.

June 4, 2021 - J&J confirmed about 235,000 people had received at least the first dose of the Janssen two-dose Ebola vaccine regimen.

April 10, 2021 - The government of Sierra Leone and the WHO announced Johnson & Johnson had donated about 4,500 Zabdeno and Mvabea Ebola vaccines to Sierra Leone to help prevent any Ebola outbreak. The last Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone was in 2016.

April 6, 2021 - Denmark-based Bavarian Nordic A/S announced the Company had received a new supply order from Janssen Pharmaceutica NV valued at approximately USD 28 million. Under the contract, Bavarian Nordic will manufacture and deliver bulk drug substance of MVA-BN® Filo vaccine, licensed to Janssen as part of its Ebola vaccine regimen, Zabdeno® (Ad26.ZEBOV) and Mvabea® (MVA-BN Filo). Manufacturing of the bulk drug substance will begin in May 2021, and delivery is expected to occur in the second half of 2021.

March 25, 2021 - Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine revealed health officials are monitoring 44 people who have returned from areas of Africa with active outbreaks of Ebola.

March 25, 2021 - Oregon public health officials announced they are monitoring four people who recently visited the West African countries of Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Regions in each of these countries are currently experiencing outbreaks of Ebola virus disease. The Oregon Health Authority and local public health departments have been in contact with these individuals, considered “persons under monitoring” since they arrived in the state earlier in March 2021.

March 23, 2021 - The WHO African Region Tweeted Guinea Ebola outbreak Situation Report (22/03/21) 18 cases, 9 deaths, 78 contacts, 82% monitored. And 3,905 people have been vaccinated.

March 13, 2021 - After a request from the Guinean authorities, Russia is considering supplying a domestic vaccine against the Ebola virus to the African country, reported TASS.

March 13, 2021 - The ECDC reported the results from genome sequencing confirmed that the first cases were infected with the Zaire ebolavirus species and suggested that the ongoing outbreak is genetically linked to the 10th EVD outbreak that occurred between 2018 and 2020 in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces in the DRC. The source of infection of the index case is currently unknown, and investigations are ongoing.

March 12, 2021 - The U.S. CDC issued a Warning - Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel, for the DRC. If your job requires possible exposure to Ebola, get vaccinated. On January 8, 2021, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended pre-exposure prophylaxis vaccination with rVSVΔG-ZEBOV-GP (Ervebo™) for adults ≥ 18 years of age U.S. population at highest risk for potential occupational exposure to Ebola virus species Zaire ebolavirus.

March 5, 2021 - The Lancet published a study 'infectious disease outbreaks expose the shortcomings in health-care systems. The Ebola outbreak pointed to gaps in training and resources as not all US hospitals were ready and equipped to manage a patient with suspected or confirmed Ebola. During the 2014–16 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, academic (medical and public health) institutions across the world contributed faculty and staff to respond. This global assistance was crucial to ending the outbreak and provided unparalleled real-world and hands-on experience to thousands of health professionals who would subsequently use those skills to lead future responses at home and abroad. Although case studies and simulated exercises are helpful didactic tools in preparedness and response, they do not reliably mimic the on-the-ground complexity of response activities during a disease outbreak. In addition, compared with their counterparts globally, the USA's academic institutions and public health schools were more restrictive and less likely to send faculty and staff, often for logistic or legal reasons. This situation meant that the USA had fewer front-line providers with real-life experience in a rapidly changing disease outbreak. Had more Ebola-experienced providers been on the front lines during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, we would have responded better, faster, and more efficiently.

February 25, 2021 - The U.S. CDC's vaccine advisory committee discussed Ebola vaccine status and options.

February 10, 2021 - In this study published by PLOS, researchers observed that EBOV RNA persistence in semen was a frequent phenomenon, with high population rates over time. This finding will inform forthcoming updated recommendations on risk reduction strategies relating to sexual transmission of EBOV. In addition, these findings support the implementation of a semen testing program as part of epidemic preparedness and response. Further, the results will enable planning of the magnitude of testing and targeted counseling needs over time.

February 3, 2021 - The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Crisis Response Plan 2021. The International Organization for Migration (IOM), in collaboration with its partners and other crisis response actors, seeks to provide urgently needed multisectoral humanitarian assistance, stabilization, and recovery support to conflict-affected populations in the DRC. IOM will also support the government in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and post-Ebola stabilization efforts and strengthening preparedness for future public health hazards. Considering the many requests for accurate displacement data in the DRC, IOM also aims to expand the scope of its Displacement Tracking Matrix interventions to cover the entire country, including monitoring population mobility to inform the outbreak preparedness and response.

January 29, 2021 - Ebola Situation Report #37: Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) - The Ebola outbreak in the northeast of the DRC, the country’s 10th and second-largest in world history, claimed the lives of 2,287 of the 3,324 patients affected. The 11th outbreak in Équateur Province affected 13 of the province’s 18 health zones, with 130 confirmed cases and 55 deaths. The introduction of an Ebola vaccine in the DRC in 2018 enabled the country to mitigate the last three outbreaks impact. About 372,800 people have been vaccinated against Ebola (including 39,859 in Équateur province).

January 27, 2021 - Study: Ebola virus antibody decay–stimulation in a high proportion of survivors. The highest antibody reactivity was observed around 200 days after an individual had recovered. The model suggests that EBOV antibody reactivity declines over 0.5–2 years after recovery. In a high proportion of healthy survivors, antibody responses undergo rapid restimulation. Vigilant follow-up of survivors and possible elective de novo antigenic stimulation by vaccine immunization should be considered to prevent EBOV viral recrudescence in recovering individuals and mitigate the potential risk of reseeding an outbreak.

January 12, 2021 - A global emergency stockpile of 500,000 doses of Ebola vaccine, funded by Gavi, will be available to all countries for outbreak response following a procurement process concluded by UNICEF with a vaccine manufacturer. Gavi-eligible low- and lower-middle-income countries will access the stockpile free of charge. In addition, they will receive support for operational costs to conduct outbreak response immunization activities. The reserve will include licensed doses of the Ebola vaccine manufactured by MSD, known as Merck, inside the United States of America and Canada, which has received approval from the European Medicines Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in addition to prequalification from WHO. The first deliveries of doses into the stockpile are funded through a $20 million contribution from the United States Agency for International Development, committed in 2017 and dedicated to supporting a supply of licensed Ebola vaccines to help tackle future disease outbreaks.

January 12, 2021 - The four leading international health and humanitarian organizations announced today establishing a global Ebola vaccine stockpile to ensure outbreak response. With the support of humanitarian organizations, the supply will allow countries to contain future Ebola epidemics by providing timely access to vaccines for populations at risk during outbreaks. The injectable single-dose Ebola vaccine Ervebo (rVSV∆G-ZEBOV-GP, live) is manufactured by Merck and developed with financial support from the US government. The European Medicines Agency licensed the Ervebo vaccine in November 2019. The vaccine is now prequalified by WHO and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and eight African countries.

January 8, 2021 - The U.S. CDC published Use of Ebola Vaccine: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, United States, 2020. The ACIP recommends preexposure vaccination with Ervebo for adults aged ≥18 years in the U.S. population who are at highest risk for potential occupational exposure to Ebola virus species Zaire ebolavirus because they are responding to an outbreak of EVD, work as health care personnel at federally designated Ebola treatment centers in the United States, or work as laboratorians or other staff at biosafety level 4 facilities in the United States.

International Coordinating Group on Vaccine Provision

Leading international health and humanitarian organizations announced a global Ebola vaccine stockpile to ensure outbreak response. The ICG was created as an additional tool to help control Ebola outbreaks. Ebola outbreaks are relatively rare and unpredictable in nature, and due to limited vaccine quantities, the current Ervebo vaccine is reserved for outbreak response. An initial 6,890 doses will be made available on a priority basis for outbreak response starting January 12, 2021. To request access to ICG stocks, national or international health authorities should submit an application form to the ICG Secretariat or an ICG member agency present in the country.

Ebola Antivirals

There are two antiviral treatments authorized to treat EVD, says the CDC. On October 14, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an antibody cocktail from Regeneron that's been shown to reduce Ebola-related mortality rates. The treatment is known as REGN-EB3, is a mixture of (3) monoclonal antibodies (atoltivimab, maftivimab, and odesivimab-ebgn), and is marketed under the brand name Inmazeb. Inmazeb is indicated to treat infection caused by Zaire ebolavirus in adult and pediatric patients, including neonates born to a mother who is RT-PCR positive for Zaire ebolavirus infection.

On December 22, 2020, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP confirmed that the U.S. FDA approved Ebanga to treat Ebola. Ebanga is now approved to treat infections caused by Zaire ebolavirus in adult and pediatric patients.

Ebola History

Ebola virus is a zoonotic pathogen that causes severe hemorrhagic fever in humans, known as Ebola virus disease (EVD). There are four species of the Ebola virus that have been known to cause disease in humans. Of these, species Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV) is the most lethal, with case fatality rates of 70–90% if left untreated.  Ebola virus, also known as Zaire ebolavirus, Sudan ebolavirus, and Bundibugyo ebolavirus, can cause severe hemorrhagic fever, leading to high case fatality rates (30–90%) in humans, says the US CDC. On August 11, 2014, the WHO convened a meeting and concluded an “ethical imperative” to develop experimental Ebola vaccines. West Africa is experiencing the largest, most severe, most complex Ebola virus disease outbreak in history.

RESTV is the only ebolavirus that has not shown any symptoms in humans, thus far only seen in monkeys from the Philippines (being held in quarantine facilities in the United States and Italy) and on a pig farm in the Philippines.

Note:  Content Sources for this page include the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, clinicaltrials.gov, and the Precision Vaccinations news network.  Dr. Robert Carlson has reviewed this information.