Burwell signs PREP declaration for Ebola vaccines

Sylvia Burwell | Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell signed a declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act to facilitate the development of vaccines to combat the Ebola virus today. 

The declaration allows for researchers and manufacturers to continue their work in development and testing of experimental Ebola vaccines without the threat of domestic claims being filed against them. Burwell hopes that this will help global efforts to curb the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and to prevent future outbreaks of the virus.

“My strong hope in issuing this PREP Act declaration in the United States is that other nations will also enact appropriate liability protection and compensation legislation,” Burwell said. “As a global community, we must ensure that legitimate concerns about liability do not hold back the possibility of developing an Ebola vaccine, an essential strategy in our global response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.”

Three vaccines that are in clinical trials are currently protected under the declaration: ChAd3-EBO-Z by GlaxoSmithKline, rVSV-ZEBOV-GP by BioProtection Corporation and Ad26.ZEBOV/MVA-BN-Filo by Janssen Corporation. The secretary hopes the declaration will also increase incentive for other companies to pursue Ebola vaccine research.

PREP declarations have been used in the past with H5N1 and H1N1 pandemic influenza (avian flu and swine flu, respectively), as well as botulism.

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