Doubts are growing about whether the world’s emergency stockpile of 300,000 Ebola vaccine doses is enough to control future epidemics.
Supply of the Merck shot, which is currently being used to fight a large and spreading outbreak of Ebola in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, is not a problem right now, according to the WHO’s deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response, Peter Salama.
But the nature of Ebola outbreaks is changing as the virus finds its way out of rural villages into populous urban settings.
Outbreak response experts at the World Health Organization (WHO) and at the vaccines alliance GAVI are already talking to the leading Ebola vaccine manufacturer, Merck, to reassess just how much larger global stocks need to be.
Merck’s experimental Ebola vaccine, known as rVSV-ZEBOV, is the furthest ahead in development. Another potential vaccine being developed by Johnson & Johnson could also eventually become part of the stockpile, global health officials say.