Ebola’s Expiration: Merck’s Ebola Vaccine Approved in Europe

Researchers, healthcare providers and global health officials who worked hard to grapple with the devastating Ebola outbreak of West Africa between 2014 and 2016 can finally breathe a sigh of relief — the very first Ebola vaccine was finally approved in Europe. Known as Ervebo, this Ebola vaccine is manufactured by the biopharmaceutical company Merck and was granted marketing authorization by the European Commission on November 11. Prof. Gary Whittaker, virology, shared his insight on the inner workings of the vaccine and its development, as well as what this landmark achievement means for the future of global health. Whittaker explained that the vaccine itself is actually a recombinant virus, based on the backbone of vesicular stomatitis virus originating from sheep and goats. “[VSV] is very efficiently growing and relatively easy to make, [so] it’s engineered to express the glycoprotein of Ebola … it generates the immune response against the Ebola virus glycoprotein, which is equivalent to the surface protein of Ebola,” Whittaker said.

Virologist Named Director Of Veterinary School’s Baker Institute

Dr. Luis M. Schang will be the next Director of both the Baker Institute for Animal Health and the Cornell Feline Health Center in the College of Veterinary Science, effective this August. Schang is currently a virologist at the University of Alberta, whose area of study focuses on the role of various cellular compounds on impeding viral spread. “[The College of Veterinary Medicine is] a most exciting place to be for any scientist and professor, and even more so for anybody interested in animal and human health,” Schang said. “This is a most unique opportunity, which of course also brings [the] most exciting challenges.”
At the University of Alberta, Schang teaches in both the Department of Biochemistry and the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. Schang said that currently one of the main goals of his research is to find antivirals that would be effective against multiple types of viruses at once — what he calls “broad-spectrum” antivirals.