November 11, 2019 / 5:49 PM / a month ago

Merck wins European approval for first-ever Ebola vaccine

FILE PHOTO: The Merck logo is seen at a gate to the Merck & Co campus in Linden, New Jersey, U.S., July 12, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co Inc on Monday received approval from the European Commission to market (bit.ly/2NZ0QMB) its Ebola vaccine, less than a month after a European medicines panel backed the first-ever vaccine against the deadly virus.

The vaccine, Ervebo, is approved for individuals aged 18 years and older and has already been used under emergency guidelines to try to protect against the spread of a deadly Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo.

The shot is also being reviewed by U.S. health regulators and a decision is expected in the first quarter of next year.

The Ebola virus causes hemorrhagic fever and spreads from person to person through direct contact with body fluids. It kills around half of those it infects.

Since the middle of last year, the Congo Ebola outbreak has killed more than 2,100 people, making it the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history, after the 2013-16 epidemic in West Africa that killed more than 11,300.

“The EU is supporting international efforts to combat Ebola on all fronts, from vaccine development to delivering humanitarian aid on the ground,” EU Ebola Coordinator Christos Stylianides said in a statement dated Nov. 10.

Merck has said its priority was to get regulatory approval of its Ervebo manufacturing site in Germany so that licensed supply of the vaccine “can be used to support global public health preparedness”.

Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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