Four international health and humanitarian groups have established a global Ebola vaccine stockpile in order to secure outbreak response, UNICEF said on Tuesday.

The Ebola vaccine stockpile will help countries to contain any future Ebola epidemics by providing “timely access to vaccines for populations at risk during outbreaks,” the UN agency said in a statement.

The effort to create the stockpile was led by the International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision, which includes the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), with financial support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is reminding us of the incredible power of vaccines to save lives from deadly viruses,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, was quoted as saying in the statement.

“Ebola vaccines have made one of the most feared diseases on earth preventable. This new stockpile is an excellent example of solidarity, science and cooperation between international organizations and the private sector to save lives,” Tedros added.

UNICEF noted that before achieving licensure, the Ebola vaccine was administered to more than 350,000 people in Guinea and in the 2018-2020 outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo under a protocol for “compassionate use”.

The Ebola vaccine is manufactured by Merck, Sharp & Dohme (MSD) Corp. and developed with financial support from the US government, the statement said.

“The European Medicines Agency licensed the Ebola vaccine in November 2019, and the vaccine is now prequalified by WHO, and licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration as well as in eight African countries,” it added.

Ebola, which was first recognized in the Central African country of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976, again emerged in West Africa in December 2013.

The viral disease was recorded in Guinea in 2013 and spread to neighboring Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Mali and Nigeria, and then to the US, UK, Spain and Italy through travelers from these countries.​​​​​​​

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