Geneva, 25 June – The new Ebola vaccine played a key role in ending the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which was officially declared over today after the country went more than 50 days without a case, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance said today.
“This is an important day for the DRC, which shows the key role the new Ebola vaccine can play in ending Ebola outbreaks now and in the future,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “However, as one outbreak ends, a new one is sadly taking its place, with new cases of Ebola now being reported in Équateur province. We must do everything we can to support the DRC health system, as the country tackles this new outbreak – as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, with cases continuing to rise in Africa and globally.”
More than 303,000 people consented to and received Merck’s rVSV-ZEBOV-GP vaccine over the course of the outbreak in the east of the country. The stockpile of these investigational doses was available thanks, in part, to a unique agreement between Gavi and the vaccine manufacturer, Merck.
In addition to its work making the investigational vaccines available, Gavi funded the vaccination teams, transportation, syringes and other vaccine supplies, as well as the ultra-cold fridges which keep the vaccine at the minus 60–80°C temperatures it needs to remain effective. Gavi provided US$ 26.5 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) to cover these operational costs in the DRC, as well as US$ 2 million to fund vaccinations in neighbouring countries.
The vaccine, manufactured by Merck, was prequalified by the WHO in November last year. Following this decision, the Gavi Board agreed to make available a global emergency stockpile of licensed Ebola vaccines, through a tender process managed by UNICEF Supply Division which is due to be finalised within the next few months.
Gavi will provide an estimated US$ 9 million in 2020 and US$ 169 million in the 2021–2025 strategic period for the new Ebola vaccine programme. Gavi-supported countries will be able to access the stockpile free of charge and will receive support for operational costs of vaccination campaigns. Other countries will need to reimburse the cost of the vaccines accessed from the stockpile.