The team of researchers and program managers at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency that has worked to counter the threat of the Ebola Virus Disease welcomed the announcement of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of a vaccine, last month.
The vaccine’s approval represents the culmination of nearly two decades of efforts by a host of teams from across the public and private sectors, like DTRA and Merck; international partners in North America, Europe and Africa; and non-governmental and international organizations.
The World Health Organization describes EVD as a rare, but severe, hemorrhagic fever. EVD has killed thousands over the course of outbreaks, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa, since it first appeared in the 1970s.
DTRA, a Defense Department combat support agency, began its work on the vaccine in 2014 during an especially deadly outbreak in West Africa.
The outbreak made clear the danger EVD posed to U.S. national security interests abroad, and to the U.S. domestic population in the event of a pandemic. DTRA coordinated a series of investment efforts and partnerships to deliver a baseline platform for a viable vaccine to mitigate the spread of the deadly disease.
“We exercised our ability to develop partnerships for a relevant need, which was critical in transitioning medical countermeasures to our advanced developers at the speed of relevancy,” said Army Maj. Jeffrey Froude, DTRA’s program manager for the EVD Vaccine.
After several years of coordinated research and development efforts by a coalition of partners, the promising vaccine candidate transitioned to next-level partners Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and Merck for more advanced human clinical trials and product manufacturing of the vaccine.
“This vaccine’s rapid progress is a testament to the power of partnerships among government agencies and with the private sector,” said Rick Bright, BARDA director.