Global Vaccine Alliance Donates $5 Million to Develop Ebola Vaccine

A volunteer is vaccinated at Redemption Hospital in Monrovia

A volunteer is vaccinated at Redemption Hospital in Monrovia

In 2014 — during the biggest-ever outbreak of Ebola — GAVI pledged to spend $300 million to buy Ebola vaccines for poor countries.

Gavi said the agreement would help the United States drugmaker take the experimental Ebola vaccine through late-stage clinical trials to licensing.

Additionally, Merck will ensure that 300,000 doses of the vaccine are available from May 2016 for use in expanded use clinical trials and/or for emergency use as needed while vaccine development continues.

If approved, Merck's so-called VSV-ZEBOV live attenuated Ebola Zaire vaccine would become one of the world's first licensed Ebola shots and Gavi would be able to start buying it to create a stockpile for future outbreaks, it said in a statement issued at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The most recent and deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus broke out in Guinea in December 2013 before sweeping across West Africa, killing over 11,000 people and infecting nearly 30,000. "The world is still worryingly underprepared for potential future health threats and a change of mindset is required to ensure we invest in research and development today to protect ourselves in years to come".

The deal was agreed on the understanding that the vaccine will be submitted for a licence by the end of 2017. He mentioned the new confirmed case in Sierra Leone and said the outbreak was likely to have "a long tail", but still remarked the Ebola vaccine would play a significant role in preventing further flare-ups of the epidemic, as well as helping to prevent other outbreaks in the future. After all affected communities reported 42 days without a case, the World Health Organization declared the region free of the virus last Friday.

Merck has already submitted an application through WHO's Emergency Use Assessment and Listing (EUAL) procedure.

But then, just hours later, a death in Sierra Leone was confirmed to be from Ebola. A decade's work was condensed into less than a year to develop the vaccine.

Gavi includes governments in donor and developing countries, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and World Bank, the vaccine industry, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and private sector partners committed to increasing access to vaccines in lower-income countries.

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