Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
Sections
You are here: Home Breaking news First Ebola vaccine receives European approval

First Ebola vaccine receives European approval

— filed under: , ,
First Ebola vaccine receives European approval

Ebola research - Photo National Cancer Institute

(BRUSSELS) - The European Commission adopted a decision Tuesday granting the first-ever market authorisation to the company Merck Sharp & Dohme B.V. for a vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus.

Ebola is a rare but severe illness caused by a virus of the same name. Death rates in patients who have contracted the disease have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.

The vaccine, called Ervebo, had been in development since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014. It is already used, as part of a specific protocol, to protect people at risk of infection, such as healthcare workers or people who have been exposed to infected persons.

"Finding a vaccine as soon as possible against this terrible virus has been a priority for the international community ever since Ebola hit West Africa five years ago," said the EU's Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis: "Today's decision is therefore a major step forward in saving lives in Africa and beyond."

This decision follows a recommendation from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and also follows a recent announcement of a clinical trial for a second Ebola vaccine regimen (Ad26.ZEBOV, MVA-BN-Filo) that is now under way in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the support of the EU's research and innovation programme Horizon 2020.

The clinical development of Ervebo was launched during the outbreak in West Africa five years ago. It was made possible through cooperation with public health stakeholders, which include national institutes of health, ministries of health in Africa (notably in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea), as well as the WHO, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

The largest outbreak to date occurred in West Africa in 2014-2016 with more than 11,000 deaths. The current outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), caused by Ebola Zaire, has shown case fatality rates of approximately 67%. More than 3,000 people have been infected with the Ebola virus during the ongoing outbreak, which was declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) in July 2019. WHO extended this decision for another three months in October 2019.

The authorisation of a medicine under the centralised procedure is a two-stage process, involving the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Commission.

EMA assesses the benefits and risks of medicines and makes recommendations to the Commission, which then takes a final legally binding decision on whether or not the medicine can be marketed in the EU.

This decision is issued normally within 67 days (legal deadline) of the scientific opinion of EMA (for Ervebo the date was 17 October). This phase includes, among other things, the translation of the product guidelines in all EU languages and a consultation with Member States (Comitology). In view of the public health interest, the Commission has accelerated this process and authorised the medicine in less than a month, in other words cutting the decision-making process in half.

The assessment report for Ervebo will be published on EMA's website.

European Medicines Agency & Ebola


Document Actions