Merck announced Friday that four African countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burundi, Ghana, and Zambia, have approved the Ebola Zaire Vaccine, ERVEBO.

Image/Dr. Frederick Murphy,CDC

Approvals by these African countries signify continued, groundbreaking progress in advancing the future of global public health preparedness against Zaire ebolavirus disease, made possible by the unprecedented collaboration between the World Health Organization (WHO), the African Vaccines Regulatory Forum (AVAREF), African governments, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and Merck.

Blood flukes in Black and White

These approvals were the result of the successful implementation of the WHO’s Roadmap for introduction and roll‐out of Merck rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola virus disease vaccine in African countries. The roadmap, designed to coordinate actions and contributions toward the licensing and roll-out of ERVEBO, helped facilitate near-parallel regulatory reviews and led to the approvals of the vaccine in several at-risk countries within 90 days of WHO prequalification.

“We are grateful for WHO’s leadership in establishing a path forward for expediting the prequalification and licensing of this vaccine in countries at greatest risk,” said Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman and chief executive officer, Merck. “This important milestone is one more example of the partnership that has formed in response to the outbreaks. While we are far from finished in the Ebola fight, this milestone shows what can be done when we work together to address the most challenging diseases that threaten people and communities.”

Ebola outbreak remains a public health emergency of international concern

ERVEBO was granted a conditional marketing authorization by the European Commission on November 11, 2019 and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Dec. 20, 2019. In the United States, ERVEBO is indicated for the prevention of disease caused by Zaire ebolavirus in individuals 18 years of age and older. The duration of protection conferred by ERVEBO is unknown. ERVEBO does not protect against other species of Ebolavirus or Marburgvirus. Effectiveness of the vaccine when administered concurrently with antiviral medication, immune globulin (IG), and/or blood or plasma transfusions is unknown.