A big investment in combating the deadly Ebola virus has been announced.
Gavi, an alliance of public bodies and companies committed to saving lives through vaccination, has put up $5 million (4.58 million euros) for future purchases of a vaccine being developed by pharmaceutical firm Merck Sharp & Dohme.
Gavi said the agreement would help the US drugmaker take the experimental Ebola vaccine through late-stage clinical trials to licensing.
As part of the agreement, Merck Sharp & Dohme will ensure that 300,000 doses of the vaccine are available from this May for use in expanded clinical trials.
If approved, the vaccine would become one of the world’s first licensed Ebola shots and Gavi would be able to start buying it to create a stockpile for future outbreaks, it said in a statement issued at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
A vast epidemic of Ebola which swept through three countries in West Africa last year killed more than 11,300 people and infected more than 28,600.
“The suffering caused by the Ebola crisis was a wake-up call to many in the global health community,” said Gavi’s chief executive Seth Berkley.
“New threats require smart solutions and our innovative financing agreement will ensure that we are ahead of the curve for future Ebola outbreaks.”
The deal was agreed on the understanding that the vaccine will be submitted for a licence by the end of 2017.