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Sunday, February 5th, 2023

Global consortium introduces second vaccine trial in Ebola-stricken DRC

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With the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak ever recorded still ongoing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the nation has opened itself to a second, large-scale vaccine trial backed by a global consortium.

The new vaccine candidate was created by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies and Johnson & Johnso and developed in conjunction with a host of partners. Still, efforts in the DRC will be led by the DRC Ministry of Health (MOH), the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Epicentre. Janssen Vaccines & Prevention B.V. will donate up to 500,000 doses of the vaccine for the study. It is also being sponsored by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

“Deployment under study conditions of a second experimental vaccine will have the dual benefit of supporting the ongoing response and improving preparedness for future outbreaks,” professor Daniel Bausch, co-principal investigator of the trial and Director of the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team, said “The two vaccines will be used in complementary fashion. The Merck vaccine will continue to be given in a ring vaccination approach to contacts of persons with Ebola and frontline workers, while the Janssen vaccine will be used to protect individuals in surrounding areas from contracting the Ebola virus.”

The vaccine is a two-dose model which will supplement efforts already being undertaken by Merck Pharmaceuticals investigational vaccine, rVSV-ZEBOV. Tests to date have shown the Janssen Ebola vaccine regiment to be tolerable and particularly responsive to the Zaire strain of the Ebola virus, which is currently ravaging the DRC. It is being utilized in a two-year clinical trial among healthcare and frontline workers, as well as evaluation as part of a large Phase 2 randomized, placebo-controlled trial in West Africa known as PREVAC.

“No single entity can solve this outbreak which has continued for more than a year,” Dr. Paul Stoffels, vice chairman of the executive committee and Chief Scientific Officer of Johnson & Johnson, said. “The global health community has come together in support of this initiative using Janssen’s investigational Ebola vaccine regimen to help prevent its further spread. This collaboration is essential, and a great demonstration of how the public and private sectors can work together to help tackle a public health crisis.”

Adults and children one year or older will be able to take the vaccine. It will be provided only under a monitored clinical trial protocol.