J&J's Ebola vaccine wins EU regulatory panel backing

© Reuters. The company logo for Johnson & Johnson is displayed on a screen to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the company’s listing at the NYSE in New York

(Reuters) – A panel of the European health regulator on Friday recommended approving Johnson & Johnson’s two-dose experimental vaccine for Ebola in the European Union.

J&J submitted its application to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in November for the vaccine, which targets an Ebola strain that causes the disease in most people.

The company in February said it was developing a coronavirus vaccine program with the help of the same technologies used in the experimental Ebola vaccine.

The panel recommendation confirms the potential of the vaccine technology, Johan Van Hoof, managing director of J&J’s Janssen unit said.

The drugmaker last month struck a manufacturing deal with Emergent BioSolutions Inc to help produce more than 1 billion doses of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which J&J plans to start testing on humans by September.

The recommendation by EMA’s human medicines committee for J&J’s Ebola vaccine follows the approval in November 2019 of the first Ebola vaccine, from Merck & Co Inc. The European commission (EC) has the last word on approvals, but typically follows EMA’s recommendations.

European approval could help accelerate J&J’s attempts to broaden access to the vaccine to high-risk countries and to enable registration in African countries, the company said.

More than 3,400 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been infected with the Ebola virus in the ongoing outbreak, second only to the 2013-16 outbreak in West Africa that killed more than 11,300.

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