As the Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to expand with isolated cases now being reported in Europe and North America, Novartis and its employees are contributing aid and pursuing research to help fight the deadly virus.
Novartis is committed to deploying our scientific and medical expertise to help protect global public health in keeping with its long history of working on the treatment and prevention of infectious and neglected, tropical diseases such as dengue fever, tuberculosis and malaria.
The current Ebola outbreak is the largest and most complex since the virus was first discovered in 1976. The World Health Organization has called it a global health emergency requiring an unprecedented, international response.
Novartis established a Group-wide Ebola Task Force in August to bring together expertise and resources from across the company and coordinate our scientific response to the Ebola outbreak.
“Novartis is committed to doing everything we can to help,” said Joe Jimenez, CEO of Novartis. “We are actively working to provide scientific and humanitarian support.”
Our main focus is on working with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in the United States to screen candidates from our libraries of drug compounds for potential to inhibit replication of the Ebola virus, which could help stop the disease.
Novartis is also undertaking work with scientists at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) to assess a new technology for its potential to provide a vaccine candidate or treatment of Ebola.
This work is still in early stages of preclinical research and, even if it is successful, it will likely take several years for any treatments to be ready for large scale clinical trials.
In addition to collaborating with US government agencies, representatives from the Novartis Ebola Task Force attended a World Health Organization consultation on potential Ebola therapies and vaccines in Geneva in early September and we continue to follow guidance from the organization to help guide our response efforts.
In terms of humanitarian support, Novartis has committed 1 million Swiss francs (USD 1.05 million) to the Red Cross and agreed to match amounts raised by a global donation program among employees. The donations will help Red Cross work on the ground in the most affected areas.
Between September 22 and October 20, Novartis and its associates contributed USD 343,318 to the effort initiated by Novartis chairman Joerg Reinhardt.
“These donations will help support relief efforts, including the construction of a treatment center in Sierra Leone,” Reinhardt said.
Novartis also remains committed to maintaining the supply of our medicines to patients in Ebola-effected regions in Africa and elsewhere. We have robust business continuity plans in place globally to help limit disruptions to normal business operations while still ensuring the health and safety of associates.
In any public health emergency, the wellfare of Novartis associates is our primary concern. We closely track guidance from international and local health authorities and adjust working and travel conditions wherever necessary. We have implemented a number of protective measures in West Africa, including travel restrictions and the supply of protective materials in response to the Ebola outbreak.