The U.S. pharmaceutical firm Merck & Co. has won the first-ever regulatory approval of a vaccine against the Ebola virus, a major boon in the fight against the deadly disease.

The European Commission’s November 10 decision granting a significant step toward full approval of Merck’s Ervebo vaccine, for use by adults over age 18, comes amid an outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that has killed more than 2,100 people since it began last year.

While the approval is for use in the European Union, the vaccine already has been used in the DRC under a “compassionate use” program to protect those at greatest risk, including health care workers and others in contact with infected patients, according to a statement from the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

EMA Executive Director Guido Rasi calls the approval “an important step towards relieving the burden of this deadly disease,” and he says Ervebo will save lives in affected countries. Read more…

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