Merck donates Ebola vaccines for testing on resistant strain
Merck has donated its Ebola vaccine to an international immunisation group to be part of a trial, which will test three vaccines against a new and vaccine-resistant strain of the virus that is now spreading in Uganda.
The trial will test Merck ’s vaccine, now licensed to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) in New York, as well as vaccines developed by the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute and the Washington-based Sabin Vaccine Institute. The trial runs in collaboration with Uganda’s Ministry of Health.
Merck has donated enough vaccine ingredient for 100,000 doses, and it is expected that 75,000 doses will be made available to WHO, with the aim that the vaccine arrived in Uganda by the beginning of December.
Mark Feinberg, IAVI’s CEO said that “the availability of the Merck doses has allowed us to significantly accelerate our programme.”
The trial aims to begin controlling the outbreak in Uganda, or at least take a step towards achieving this goal. The current outbreak appears to be primarily comprised of the Sudan strain of the virus, which the current authorised vaccines do not protect against. The outbreak has so far led to at least 141 infections, 55 of which were fatal, so WHO and vaccine makers are eager to find an efficient vaccine to protect against the strain.