Parts of the world ravaged by outbreaks of Ebola can now heave a small sigh of relief thanks to the stockpile of vaccine, the International Coordinating Group (ICG) announced Monday.
The single-dose vaccine will allow affected countries, particularly those in Africa, to better contain the deadly virus during future outbreaks.
“This new stockpile is an excellent example of solidarity, science and cooperation between international organizations and the private sector to save lives,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said in a Tuesday press release.
The vaccine development is a joint effort of four leading international health and humanitarian organizations: World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), with financial support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
The vaccine was piloted among 350,000 people in Guinea and in the 2018-2020 Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo under a protocol for “compassionate use.”
It has since been licensed by the European Medicines Agency, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and eight African countries.
More than 15,000 cases of the hemorrhagic fever-like disease were recorded. With a fatality rate of up to 90%, and more than 11,300 people died between 2014 and 2016, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The vaccine, which is recommended by the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on immunization for use in Ebola outbreaks, will be managed by UNICEF although the ICG will be “the decision-making body for its allocation and release,” the press release said.
Countries that make requests for vaccines should receive a response in 48 hours. The vaccines will then be shipped from Switzerland in temperature-controlled packages. The statement said the target is to make “overall delivery time from the stockpile to countries” in seven days.
An initial 6,890 doses are now available for outbreak response with additional quantities to be delivered into the reserve this month and throughout 2021 and beyond. b