The Gavi global alliance for vaccines and immunization group just put a down payment on the cure for the world’s most horrific virus. Merck’s Zaire-tested VSV-ZEBOV vaccine is now licensed to Gavi and can be stockpiled against a second outbreak. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa killed 11,300 people and infected another 28,000.
This deal at Davos is remarkable because it shows a world health organization stockpiling vaccine doses before it has been licensed. The vaccine worked well in West Africa and in Guinea where trials were conducted. An infected patient was typically clear of the virus after ten days after taking VSV-ZEBOV. In Sierra Leone, where an outbreak was just declared on January 15th, the vaccine is being administered while still technically in investigative mode. The almost philanthropic deal demonstrates how the world health organizations and drug companies are starting to pool money toward exotic and tropical disease prevention. The reason this has not occurred in the past is because the financial gain from this investment was low due to the rampant poverty in these areas.
After effects of the West African Ebola outbreak are expected. Yet, through the many deaths and tragedy, the world health community saw promise in how international collaboration pushed the vaccine forward.