Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

FDA Approves Ebola Vaccine

Health + Wellness
FDA Approves Ebola Vaccine

Ebola virus seen under a microscope. Studio_3321 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Thursday that it has approved a vaccine for Ebola manufactured by Merck, according to Reuters.


Merck's vaccine, Ervebo, was also approved by the European Commission in November, as STAT reported.

The vaccine was used widely by the World Health Organization and the Democratic Republic of Congo to help reduce the spread of the Ebola virus in a few West African countries from 2014 to 2016, according to Reuters. Ebola Zaire is the strain of the virus responsible for the ongoing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to STAT.

The Ebola virus is extremely rare in the U.S. The only cases that have ever existed are from people infected in other countries who traveled to the U.S. or from healthcare workers who treated people infected with the virus, according to ABC News.

"Ebola virus disease is a rare but severe and often deadly disease that knows no borders," said Peter Marks, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in a statement reported by STAT. "Vaccination is essential to help prevent outbreaks and to stop the Ebola virus from spreading when outbreaks do occur."

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar touted the vaccine, which is a single-dose injection that works within 10 days of injection, as "a triumph of American global health leadership," according to CNN.

The Ebola Zaire virus has claimed thousands of life in West Africa and set off widespread panic during an outbreak in 2014. The current outbreak has claimed 2,000 lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo, while the outbreak in 2014 led to more than 11,000 deaths in West Africa, according to CNN.

The Ebola virus causes hemorrhagic fever, which can quickly shut down bodily functions. It spreads when a person makes direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, as ABC News reported.

The vaccine is approved for patients 18 and older. It will make up a large portion of the vaccine stockpile held by the Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to have readily available at the next sign of an outbreak, according to STAT. Gavi recently said it planned to stockpile half a million doses of the vaccine. Ervebo is attractive to Gavi for its simplicity since it is just a single-dose and has a fairly quick immune response time of just 10 days, as STAT reported.

"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," said Anna Abram, FDA deputy commissioner for policy, legislation and international affairs, in a statement Thursday, as ABC News reported. "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."

The vaccine has been in the works for decades, starting in the 90s. However, the dearth of commercial interest in an Ebola vaccine kept large pharmaceutical companies from partnering in the research and development of the drug. The outbreak in 2014 triggered a change in attitude and the drug was rapidly developed.

It underwent extensive testing, culminating in a clinical trail in Guinea, which was effected by the outbreak. Ervebo proved effective in stopping the spread of the virus, as STAT reported.

More than 258,000 people have been vaccinated in the current outbreak, according to STAT.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' "Doomsday Clock" — an estimate of how close humanity is to the apocalypse — remains at 100 seconds to zero for 2021. Eva Hambach / AFP / Getty Images

By Brett Wilkins

One hundred seconds to midnight. That's how close humanity is to the apocalypse, and it's as close as the world has ever been, according to Wednesday's annual announcement from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a group that has been running its "Doomsday Clock" since the early years of the nuclear age in 1947.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The 13th North Atlantic right whale calf with their mother off Wassaw Island, Georgia on Jan. 19, 2010. @GeorgiaWild, under NOAA permit #20556

North Atlantic right whales are in serious trouble, but there is hope. A total of 14 new calves of the extremely endangered species have been spotted this winter between Florida and North Carolina.

Read More Show Less

Trending

There are new lifestyle "medicines" that are free that doctors could be prescribing for all their patients. Marko Geber / Getty Images

By Yoram Vodovotz and Michael Parkinson

The majority of Americans are stressed, sleep-deprived and overweight and suffer from largely preventable lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. Being overweight or obese contributes to the 50% of adults who suffer high blood pressure, 10% with diabetes and additional 35% with pre-diabetes. And the costs are unaffordable and growing. About 90% of the nearly $4 trillion Americans spend annually for health care in the U.S. is for chronic diseases and mental health conditions. But there are new lifestyle "medicines" that are free that doctors could be prescribing for all their patients.

Read More Show Less
Candles spell out, "Fight for 1 point 5" in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany on Dec. 11, 2020, in reference to 1.5°C of Earth's warming. The event was organized by the Fridays for Future climate movement. Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Taking an unconventional approach to conduct the largest-ever poll on climate change, the United Nations' Development Program and the University of Oxford surveyed 1.2 million people across 50 countries from October to December of 2020 through ads distributed in mobile gaming apps.

Read More Show Less
A monarch butterfly is perched next to an adult caterpillar on a milkweed plant, the only plant the monarch will lay eggs on and the caterpillar will eat. Cathy Keifer / Getty Images

By Tara Lohan

Fall used to be the time when millions of monarch butterflies in North America would journey upwards of 2,000 miles to warmer winter habitat.

Read More Show Less