As the world battles Coronavirus, Africa makes a breakthrough by licensing an effective vaccine for Ebola

A girl gets inoculated with an Ebola vaccine (pictured November 2019), in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • While the world fights to find a cure to the coronavirus, Africa has found the vaccine to another deadly outbreak - Ebola.
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) has described the vaccine named Ervebo as a huge "milestone."
  • The new injectable Ebola vaccine has been licensed by four African countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Ghana and Zambia.

We have some good news to report amidst the deadly coronavirus outbreak. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), four countries in the African region have made an important milestone in the fight against Ebola.

These nations - The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burundi, Ghana and Zambia - have licensed an Ebola vaccine named Ervebo. It is manufactured by the company Merck.

Commenting on the good news, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, "The approval of the Ebola vaccine by these countries is another milestone in the fight against this unforgiving disease. Africa has rallied to cement hard-fought progress to keep its people safe from Ebola."

The license comes only 90 days after passing WHO's prequalification process.

Explaining why this is "fastest vaccine prequalification process ever," the WHO Director-General said, "The development, study, and rapid prequalification of this vaccine show what the global community can do when we prioritize the health needs of vulnerable people."

Now, this vaccine can be distributed widely to any African country at risk of Ebola virus disease outbreaks.

"Once licensed doses are available, use of the vaccine will not require clinical trial or other research protocols," WHO's statement stated.

Preliminary study results of the injectable vaccine show that it is nearly 98% effective as it can reduce the chances of dying for anyone infected with the Ebola Zaire virus.

Ervebo has already been used on over 290 000 people under compassionate use protocols. It is expected to be registered in additional countries in the coming weeks.

The vaccine comes in handy as the DRC is dealing with the world's second-largest Ebola outbreak, declared on August 1, 2018. So far, the epidemic has killed over 2,200 people and infected more than 3,400.

The largest Ebola outbreak in West Africa on record is between 2014 and 2016. Over 28,600 cases and nearly 11,300 deaths were reported in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and outside these three countries.

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