Article by
Dani Reiter
Updated
September 26th, 2019

Merck Selected As Sole Ebola Vaccine Supplier to the DRC

Merck's Ebola Zaire vaccine candidate V920 (rVSVΔG-ZEBOV-GP) is a recombinant, replication-competent vaccine

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) ministry of health and government officials have agreed that Merck's Ebola Zaire vaccine candidate rVSVΔG-ZEBOV-GP (V920) will continue to be the only vaccine used in the ongoing Ebola outbreak. 

The DRC’s Minister of Health decided on July 10, 2019, that ‘due to the lack of sufficient scientific evidence on the efficacy and safety of other Ebola vaccine candidates, as well as the risk of confusion among the population, it was decided that no additional clinical vaccine trials will be allowed throughout the country.’ 

As of July 11, 2019, a total of 158,830 people have been vaccinated with the rVSVΔG-ZEBOV-GP Ebola vaccine.   

Merck's V920 (rVSVΔG-ZEBOV-GP) investigational vaccine candidate prevents the onset of Ebola Zaire.

V920 is a recombinant, replication-competent vaccine, consisting of a vesicular stomatitis virus, which has been genetically engineered to express a glycoprotein from the Zaire ebolavirus so as to provoke a neutralizing immune response to the Ebola virus. 

The V920 vaccine was used in a Phase III efficacy trial during the West African Ebola Zaire epidemic in 2015, showing 100% protection against Ebola Virus Disease, and it has subsequently been deployed for emergency control of Ebola outbreaks in central Africa.

Previously, on May 7th, 2019, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) issued new recommendations to address Ebola vaccination challenges in the DRC.   

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These new SAGE recommendations included introducing in the DRC an additional experimental Ebola vaccine developed by Janssen Divison of Johnson & Johnson. 

The Janssen Ad26.ZEBOV/MVA-BN vaccine candidate has been conducting a Phase 3 study to demonstrate the non‐inferiority of a heterologous prime‐boost regimen using Ad26.ZEBOV as prime and MVA‐BN‐Filo as boost administered at different doses at a 56‐day interval. 

The Janssen Ebola virus vaccine candidate is also in a phase 2 study to evaluate the safety, reactogenicity, and immunogenicity of a heterologous 2-dose vaccination regimen using Ad26.ZEBOV and MVA-BN®-Filo in infants aged 4-11 months in Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Ebola vaccine news

The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a rare and deadly disease in people and nonhuman primates. People can get EVD through direct contact with an infected animal, such as a bat or nonhuman primate, or a sick or dead person infected with Ebola virus, says the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

To alert international travelers, the CDC expanded its Level 2 Travel Alert regarding the Ebola Zaire outbreak in the DRC. 

Travelers to the DRC should seek medical care immediately if they develop fever, headache, body aches, sore throat, diarrhea, weakness, vomiting, stomach pain, rash, or red eyes during or after travel.

But, on July 1, 2019, the World Health Organization advised against any restriction of travel to, and trade with, the DRC.