FDA Approves First Ebola Vaccine

December 30, 2019

by Andreea Sterea

After the European Union approved a vaccine to prevent Ebola in November, the FDA issued its first approval of a vaccine against Ebola this month. 

The FDA announced earlier this month that it approved Merck’s Ervebo vaccine to prevent Ebola. The same vaccine is currently given to people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

While cases of Ebola are rare in the United States, the FDA follows its European counterparts and does not take any chances. This vaccine for the prevention of Ebola virus disease (EVD) was shown to be 100% effective in preventing Ebola cases with symptoms’ onset greater than 10 days after vaccination.

ebola vaccine

The Ebola Vaccine Is Safe, the FDA Announces

While it comes with some temporary secondary effects, the Ebola vaccine is safe. The Ebola vaccine Ervebo comes as a single-dose injection and is alive and attenuated. It has been genetically engineered to contain a protein from the Zaire ebolavirus. Its safety was assessed across populations from North America, Africa, and Europe. 

Ebola is a problem that science cannot ignore, even if it is rare in Europe, Canada, or the U.S. The ongoing Ebola outbreak in Congo determined authorities in both Europe and the U.S. to investigate closely the current research on Ebola vaccines and issue approvals the minute all the results were in. 

The FDA explained its decision through the voice of  Anna Abram, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Legislation, and International Affairs:

“While the risk of Ebola virus disease in the U.S. remains low, the U.S. government remains deeply committed to fighting devastating Ebola outbreaks in Africa, including the current outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Today’s approval is an important step in our continuing efforts to fight Ebola in close coordination with our partners across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as our international partners, such as the World Health Organization. These efforts, including today’s landmark approval, reflect the FDA’s unwavering dedication to leveraging our expertise to facilitate the development and availability of safe and effective medical products to address urgent public health needs and fight infectious diseases, as part of our vital public health mission.

When Will the Ebola Vaccine Become Available?

As always with such matters, it will take some time until the vaccine becomes ready for the public. Nevertheless, the European Union aims to start manufacturing the doses in 2020. While the American public waits for the vaccine, we should all watch closely the development of Ebola drugs, also deemed as harbingers of hope for the people in Congo. 

According to specialists in the field, Ervebo will also become available in no time, especially since the FDA proved incredibly efficient in this particular case. 

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