WHO prequalifies Merck & Co.'s Ervebo as first vaccine for Ebola virus

The World Health Organization announced that Merck & Co.'s Ervebo (rVSVΔG-ZEBOV-GP) has been prequalified as the first vaccine to protect people from infection with the Ebola Zaire virus. The decision means that United Nations agencies and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, can procure the vaccine for roll-out in countries most at risk of Ebola outbreaks.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, remarked "five years ago, we had no vaccine and no therapeutics for Ebola," adding that "the development, study, and rapid prequalification of this vaccine show what the global community can do when we prioritise the health needs of vulnerable people." WHO noted that licensed doses of Ervebo will be available in mid-2020.

The WHO's prequalification of Ervebo comes shortly after the European Commission granted the vaccine conditional marketing approval for the active immunisation of individuals aged 18 years or older against Ebola virus disease caused by the Zaire strain. The vaccine, also known as V920, is currently under priority review by the FDA, with a decision expected by March 14, 2020.

Merck licensed Ervebo, a recombinant, replication-competent vaccine, from NewLink Genetics in 2014.

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