Will 500,000 Ebola Vaccines Be Enough Next Time?

Gavi to expand Ebola Zaire vaccine stockpile with $178 million dollars

The Board of Gavi announced during a meeting in New Delhi, India, that an expanded stockpile of Ebola vaccines will become available in 2020.

This announcement on December 5, 2019, said ‘an estimated investment of $178 million dollars will be needed through 2025 to fund this new Ebola vaccine program.’

The target populations and scope of countries will be based on future recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE).

SAGE has already provided guidance to Gavi that the global emergency stockpile should be maintained at 500,000 vaccine doses. 

SAGE had previously planned on stockpiling 300,000 doses but the current Ebola outbreak centered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Africa, has already utilized about 255,000 vaccine doses.

This is the 10th Ebola outbreak in the DRC.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of the Gavi Board said in a related press statement, “We now have 1 vaccine approved for use and more on their way, as well as rapid diagnostics and several promising treatments.” 

“With these innovative tools at our disposal, the battle against Ebola can be won, and I’m proud of the role Gavi has played in this.”

There are currently 8 Zaire Ebolavirus vaccine candidates at different phases of development.

Recently, on December 5th, the University of Tokyo announced ‘they will begin a clinical study on a vaccine candidate for the Ebola virus, a first in Japan.’

Previously, Merck’s Ervebo Ebola vaccine was used under compassionate use as part of the response to the ongoing DRC outbreak, which has recently received conditional marketing approval from the European Commission and prequalification from the WHO.

The Ervebo (V920) is a recombinant, replication-competent Ebola vaccine.

Furthermore, close to a thousand people have received a second candidate vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) as part of a vaccine study in North Kivu, DRC.

J&J’s Jannsen’s Ad26.ZEBOV/MVA-BN is a heterologous prime-boost Ebola vaccine regimen.

Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, added: “We will get to work with manufacturers and our partners to build this vaccine stockpile and in order to protect people, health systems, and economies that may be threatened by this devastating disease in the future.”

The Gavi Board meeting took place in India where the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set the pace for accelerating immunization coverage and new vaccine introductions. With a vision to reach over 90 percent full immunization coverage across the country, India has introduced 6 new life-saving vaccines in the past few years and strengthened its health systems with catalytic support from the Gavi Alliance.

Separately, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced on November 9th, it is providing nearly $56 million in additional humanitarian assistance to combat the ongoing Ebola Zaire virus outbreak in the DRC. This USAID additional funding increases the USA’s total to more than $266 million since the beginning of the outbreak in the DRC during August 2018.

And there is some good news regarding medicines to treat an Ebola-patient. Recovery from Ebola generally depends on supportive clinical care and the patient’s immune response.

But there are experimental medicines being tested in Africa. 

On November 27, 2019, a new study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found 2 therapeutic medications were effective at reducing Ebola-related fatalities in phase 2 and 3 clinical trials. Both the MAb114 and REGN-EB3 medications were found superior to ZMapp in reducing mortality from the Ebola disease.

Ebola is a rare and deadly disease in people and nonhuman primates. People can get Ebola through direct contact with an infected animal (bat or nonhuman primate) or a sick or dead person infected with the Ebola virus.

There are 4 (Ebola, Sudan, Taï Forest, and Bundibugyo viruses) viruses known to cause Ebola disease in people.

Ebola symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after contact with the virus, with an average of 8 to 10 days. The course of the illness typically progresses from “dry” symptoms initially and then progresses to “wet” symptoms as the person becomes sicker.

Survivors are thought to have some protective immunity to the type of Ebola that sickened them, said the CDC in November 2019.

Ebola Vaccine news published by Vax Before Travel