Will Ebola Continue to Re-Emerge?
In this post, Janssen’s Dr. Allitia Di Bernardo looks at how Janssen is fighting to prevent Ebola outbreaks before they begin.
Since stepping into my role as Europe, Middle East & Asia (EMEA) Therapeutic Area Lead for Central Nervous System Disorders, Infectious Disease and Vaccines, and Pulmonary Artery Hypertension at Janssen, I have been gripped by the story of Ebola. As a relative newcomer to the space of infectious diseases, I have been struck by the urgent innovation taking place to counteract and prevent some of the world’s most life-threatening infections. When it comes to Ebola, recent advances have left me inspired and enthused to continue pushing forwards on our mission to develop preventive solutions for those who are most vulnerable to infectious diseases.
What we've seen so far
With multiple routes of transmission, including via animals, Ebola is a complex disease to manage and predict – there have been approximately 30 significant outbreaks since it was discovered in 1976 with an acceleration in the last two decades. On average, it is almost one a year since 2000.
From the devastating 2014–16 epidemic in West Africa to the second largest outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) between 2018-2020, continuous resurgences of Ebola have certainly provided the world’s healthcare industry with a wake-up call. The newest outbreak, declared in the DRC just last month, further illustrates the need for effective prevention strategies and drives home the need for an agile approach as to how we combat these epidemics and stop them from happening in the first place.
We cannot be complacent when it comes to Ebola. That’s why numerous health bodies, local governments and pharmaceutical companies, among others, have worked together in partnership over the last few years to accelerate a solution – to help prevent renewed Ebola outbreaks in the future. That is why, in 2014, we at Janssen decided to accelerate the development of our Ebola vaccine with a significant research investment. Now, having gone from trials to approval in just five years, I for one am so glad we made that choice.
Our hope is that our vaccine will provide long-term protection against Ebola and thereby help prevent Ebola future outbreaks before they even begin.
We committed to donating up to 700,000 regimens to support vaccination programmes in the DRC and Rwanda and as of July 2020, over 80,000 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Along with improved testing and treatments, these programmes have helped to make a big difference to the way outbreaks are being managed in these at-risk communities.
What about the future?
We are determined to continue our support to at-risk nations for current and emerging Ebola epidemics. Our recent Ebola vaccine approval from the European Commission facilitates a broader and faster distribution of our Ebola vaccine in at-risk communities to the people who need it most.
We at Janssen have a long-standing commitment to address global health crises which builds on our history of redefining treatment paradigms. We are committed to bringing forward transformational vaccines to help overcome the threat of some of the world’s most life-threatening infectious diseases. Our technologies have been used to construct the company’s SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate, as well as candidates for Zika, RSV and HIV.
While the road ahead will be tough, through accelerated research and the help of valuable global partnerships, we can make huge progress. We are on the right track to stopping future epidemics - it’s now our duty to keep on providing the right tools to fight them.
Click here to learn more about Janssen’s work in the area of pathogens of global concern.