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Merck's Ebola vaccine found to be effective

The experimental Ebola vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV, manufactured by Merck & Co. Inc., was found to be "highly protective" against the deadly virus in a late-stage clinical trial, according to a report published in The Lancet.

The vaccine was studied in a trial involving 11,841 people in Guinea during 2015. Among the 5,837 people who received the shot, no Ebola cases were recorded 10 days or more after vaccination. In comparison, there were 23 cases 10 days or more after vaccination among the people who did not receive the vaccine, the World Health Organization said in a news release.

The vaccine, which is manufactured by Merck Sharp & Dohme, received breakthrough therapy designation from the U.S. FDA in July, which enabled faster regulatory review, the WHO said.

In January, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization provided US$5 million to Merck to procure the vaccine once it is approved, prequalified and recommended by WHO. As part of the agreement, Merck will ensure that 300,000 doses of the vaccine are available for emergency use in the interim, and will submit the vaccine for licensure by the end of 2017.

The rVSV-ZEBOV trial is funded by WHO, with participation from the Wellcome Trust; the U.K. Department for International Development; the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Norwegian Institute of Public Health through the Research Council of Norway; the Canadian Government through the Public Health Agency of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the International Development Research Centre, and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development; and Médecins Sans Frontières.

The West African Ebola outbreak in 2013 to 2016 resulted in more than 11,300 deaths, the WHO said.