Fact Sheet - VSV-EBOV - Canada's vaccine for Ebola

Science behind the vaccine

VSV-EBOV is an Ebola vaccine discovered by researchers at the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory (NML).

Studies suggest that the yet to be licensed vaccine could prevent Ebola infection when used before and also immediately after exposure to the Ebola virus.

When a person takes a vaccine, it prompts their immune system to start making antibodies. Antibodies work in our body by finding and then neutralizing foreign objects such as bacteria or viruses.

The vaccine is based on a virus found in animals called vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) that is combined with a portion of the protein covering of the Ebola virus. When administered, it induces an immune response against the Ebola virus. It does not contain a live Ebola virus. There is no risk that people could contract the Ebola virus through receiving the vaccination.

Discovery of the vaccine

The discovery of the Ebola vaccine was funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Safety and Security Program and required collaboration with government departments, investment by private industry and importantly, international partnerships.

The intellectual property rights for the vaccine belong to the Government of Canada. It has been licensed to NewLink Genetics, and on November 24, 2014, NewLink Genetics and Merck announced their collaboration on the vaccine and they have the responsibility to produce mass quantities and to complete clinical trials for the vaccine.

International collaboration

On August 12, 2014, the Government of Canada announced a donation of its vaccine to the WHO.

In October 2014, the Government of Canada shipped 800 vials of its Ebola vaccine to the WHO in Geneva, fulfilling the Government's vaccine donation commitment to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The Public Health Agency of Canada supplied the vaccine to the WHO in its role as the international coordinating body for the West African Ebola outbreak, so that the vaccine can be made available as an international resource.

On May 21, 2018, the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the support of WHO and partners started a ring vaccination trial using the VSV Ebola vaccine to try and stop an outbreak of the disease in that country. A ring vaccination program offers vaccines to the contacts of confirmed cases and the contacts of contacts. Frontline healthcare workers and other persons with potential exposure to Ebola virus disease including but not limited to laboratory workers, surveillance teams and people responsible for safe and dignified burials – will also receive the vaccine.

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