The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday « prequalified » the Ebola vaccine that was used so far in the DRC so-called compassionate use, « paving the way for its use in high-risk countries. »
The WHO said in a statement that it « prequalified today (Tuesday) for the first time an Ebola vaccine, a crucial step that will accelerate its registration, access and deployment in the countries most exposed to epidemics. Ebola « .
This vaccine prequalification process, « paving the way for its use in high-risk countries », is the fastest ever conducted by WHO.
Thanks to a prequalified vaccine and experimental treatments, Ebola is now preventable and treatable
The announcement follows Monday’s decision by the European Commission to allow the marketing of this vaccine manufactured by the US Merck Sharpe and Dohme (MSD), under the trade name Ervebo. On 18 October, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) had already given the green light.
WHO prequalification means that the vaccine meets the standards of the UN specialized agency « in terms of quality, safety and efficiency ». Now, the various UN agencies and the Gavi Alliance for Immunization, can get the vaccine « for countries at risk ».
« This is a historic step to ensure that those who need it most can access this life-saving vaccine, » said WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. « Five years ago, we had no vaccine or therapeutic treatments for Ebola. With a prequalified vaccine and experimental treatments, Ebola is now preventable and treatable. «
Since the beginning of the epidemic in the DRC, which has caused some 2,190 deaths in more than 3,290 cases, more than 236,000 people have been vaccinated with the first vaccine, according to WHO, including 60,000 health professionals.
The vaccine was administered according to a so-called « compassionate use » procedure, making it possible to use an emergency treatment prior to its authorization to be placed on the market.
A second vaccine, still experimental and developed by Johnson & Johnson (administered in two doses 56 days apart), is to be introduced in mid-November in areas where the virus is absent.
The current Ebola outbreak is the tenth largest on Congolese soil since 1976 and the second worst in history after the one that killed 11,000 in West Africa in 2014-2016.
The development of the first vaccine was a start in response to this terrible epidemic, during which WHO was strongly criticized by NGOs for failing to gauge the scale of the crisis before it became known. explodes.