Ervebo: World’s first Ebola vaccine approved by the WHO

After several months of trying to combat the spread of Ebola, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday approved a historic vaccine Ervebo. The drug which was manufactured by United States Merck Sharpe and Dohme (MSD) MERCK pharmaceuticals had until its approval been used in the Democratic Republic of Congo as an experimental vaccine.

The approval of the Ervebo drug comes just 48 hours after the European Commission’s decision authorize the marketing of this vaccine. Following the standard procedure which requires that a WHO pre-qualification is granted to a trial medication only after a drug passes important safety and efficacy tests, it is safe to say that the drug meets the WHO’s quality, safety and efficacy standards.

In December 2016, a study discovered that the VSV-EBOV vaccine to be 95-100 percent effective against the Ebola virus by August 2018, an experimental mAb114 Ebola treatment was used in the Democratic Republic of Congo after 40 people died. The global health organizations have been working steadily to find a lasting solution the virus.

Several other experimental treatments including Remdesivir, Favipiravir and REGN3450, REGN3471 and REGN3479 which are awaiting approval have been deployed and are said to have a successful impact in managing the virus.

The current Ebola disease outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the second largest in history and it has been established that the Ebola virus can be detected in semen long after it is cleared from other organs and tissues. A recent study discovered that the virus could be detected in 50 percent of male survivors 115 days after recovery and may linger for up to three years.

The virus has also been detected in semen at concentrations greatly exceeding that found in the blood at peak infection. The data also suggests that this occurs in the absence of any symptoms of disease. In addition, sexual transmission of Ebola virus from male survivors has been reported up to 18 months following their recovery.

Asides Ervebo, there is a second vaccine, still experimental and developed by Johnson & Johnson, administered in two doses 56 days apart, that is said to be introduced in mid-November in areas where the virus is absent.

So far, over 3,300 cases of Ebola has been recorded in the DRC, with 2,190 deaths recorded. Over 236,000 people have been vaccinated with the first vaccine, including 60,000 health professionals, WHO revealed.