The Ebola epidemic in West Africa broke out in Guinea in March 2014, spreading rapidly to Liberia and Sierra Leone. In total, the virus spread to 9 countries resulting in 27,000 confirmed cases and 11,000 deaths. The Ebola virus poses a threat to citizens in West Africa, medical staff and warfighters deployed to the region.
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Joint Science and Technology Office (DTRA JSTO) initiated basic research for the first Ebola vaccine, V920. The vaccine began a clinical development programme and research to evaluate V920 is ongoing. Data from a study in 2015 shows 100% efficacy following vaccination with a single dose of V920. The study also reported that all vaccinated individuals appeared to be protected against the Ebola virus within 6-10 days of vaccination.
The FDA granted the vaccine breakthrough therapy designation that has accelerated the development and review of the vaccine. Additionally, the EMA provided the vaccine PRIME status to enhance support for the development of medicines that target an unmet medical need. PRIME is intended to speed up processes so that medicines can reach patients quicker. Together, both of these inputs are crucial in the licensing of the world’s first vaccine for Ebola.