In December 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the very first vaccine for the Ebola virus disease. Manufactured by American pharmaceutical company, Merck, the vaccine is called Ervebo, and can be administered in just a single dose.
The announcement of the vaccine by the FDA came one month after the World Health Organization (WHO), the global health arm of the United Nations, approved the vaccine. It hopes that it will be a critical step in licensing and distributing the vaccine in countries most at risk of Ebola outbreaks.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director said, “This is a historic step towards ensuring the people who most need it are able to access this life-saving vaccine. “Five years ago, we had no vaccine and no therapeutics for Ebola. With a prequalified vaccine and experimental therapeutics, Ebola is now preventable and treatable.”
The United States government will continue to help fight Ebola, especially in other countries, and especially in Africa. The current outbreak in the Democratic of the Congo is of peak concern.
Ervebo has been circulating communities for a year or so now. Congolese health officials and the WHO began using Ervebo in 2018 as an experimental vaccine to help address the epidemic. Over 258,000 people have been vaccinated in the outbreak zone to date. A second experimental vaccine, produced by Johnson & Johnson, was recently deployed in the massive city of Goma, according to Congolese health officials.
While a vaccine does not cure the disease or ensure there will be no future cases, vaccines are essential to mitigating outbreaks and keeping diseases from spreading.
The drug was first approved by WHO, then the FDA followed, and more countries are likely to follow in an effort to ensure that Ebola is not only preventable, but also treatable.
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