Under a newly approved program, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance announced it will fund a global emergency stockpile of Ebola virus vaccines available to countries for outbreak response and prevention.
The public-private partnership said it would open a funding window between now and 2025, with an estimated investment of $178 million. It said the stockpile will be available for free to low- and middle-income countries, which also will receive help for the operational costs of Ebola vaccination campaigns. The stockpile will be available to high-income countries as well, but they are “expected to self-finance,” Gavi said.
There is currently a stockpile of 300,000 doses of the Ebola vaccine manufactured by Merck, which is being used in the ongoing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and is under review for approval in the United States. It has already been conditionally approved in Europe and prequalified by WHO.
“I don’t like to use the word stockpile for what we have done up till now,” Gavi CEO Seth Berkley, MD, said in a news conference.
He explained that Gavi and Merck signed an Advanced Purchase Commitment that required the pharmaceutical company to always have 300,000 investigational Ebola vaccine doses available until a licensed product comes to market.
WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) has recommended that the global emergency stockpile of Ebola vaccines be kept at 500,000 licensed doses. SAGE recommendations will help determine target populations and countries, Gavi said.
According to Gavi, there are eight Ebola vaccine candidates currently under development that target Zaire ebolavirus, which has caused most outbreaks. The vaccine candidates are at different stages of production, Berkley said. As of last month, a vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson is also being used in the DRC outbreak.
“Obviously, any of these could be included in the stockpile,” Berkley said.
Gavi said plans on how and when to deploy the vaccine stockpile will be developed with partner organizations. – by Marley Ghizzone
Disclosure: Berkley is the CEO of Gavi.