WHO accepts Merck's Ebola vaccine for emergency use

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Merck Pharmaceuticals' Ebola Zaire vaccine, V920, was recently accepted for review by the World Health Organization (WHO) for Emergency Use Assessment and Listing (EUAL).

The EUAL process expedites vaccine availability needed for public health emergencies. When an outbreak occurs, vaccines bypass WHO qualification standards. In such situations, the vaccine is considered safe for use.

Analysis of vaccine safety and quality is ongoing while the vaccine is distributed on an emergency basis. EUAL endorsement is part of the process of moving the vaccine toward standardization, according to Dr. Paula Annunziato, vice president for clinical research for Merck Research Laboratories.

“This application to the WHO is an important step toward enabling V920 to be used if a public health emergency of international concern were to be declared for the Ebola Zaire species prior to licensure of the vaccine candidate,” Annunziato said.

The V920 vaccine was licensed by Merck to combat Ebola in areas hardest hit by the disease. As research has progressed, V920 has undergone continuing phases of research and testing, moving it toward public use, rather than only emergency use. Widespread distribution will depend upon further testing and outcomes.

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