The Ebola virus was first documented in 1976 and has been responsible for several deadly outbreaks, including the devastating 2014-2016 outbreak in West Africa. Find out more about CEPI’s work to expand access to Ebola virus vaccines by supporting continued R&D against this virus.

A close up image of an Ebola virus particle


Country-specific outbreaks since it was first characterised in 1976


Average case fatality rate


Economic burden during 2014-2016 epidemic

What is Ebola virus?

Ebola virus was discovered in 1976 in Democratic Republic of the Congo (then referred to as Zaire). 

Ebola virus is a rare but severe, often-fatal illness in humans. Part of the Filovirus family, it is transmitted to people from wild animals, following which it spreads through human-to-human transmission.

The global need for CEPI was recognised after the devastating Ebola epidemic of 2014-16 in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, which killed more than 11,000 people and had an economic and social burden of over US$53 billion. 

The world’s response to this crisis fell tragically short. While Ebola vaccines had been in development for more than a decade, no system existed to expedite vaccine development to respond to this type of outbreak. As a result, it was nearly a year into the epidemic before clinical trials were deployed.  

CEPI was set up in response to this devastating outbreak as an international, intergovernmental alliance to develop vaccines to better prepare for emerging disease threats. 

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person in ppe outfit

Where does Ebola virus occur?

The risk of Ebola virus outbreaks exists primarily in Africa. 

Outbreaks of Ebola virus have so far been reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Gabon, Guinea, Liberia, the Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone.

people facing away from the camera walking into an Ebola treatment centre

What are the symptoms of Ebola virus infection?

The Ebola virus incubation period is typically from 2 to 21 days. 

A person infected with Ebola virus cannot spread the disease until they develop symptoms. Symptoms of Ebola virus can be sudden and include fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. 

This can be followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function and haemorrhaging. 

The average case fatality rate is around 50%. 

Ebola survivors may experience long-term impacts of the disease following recovery from acute illness, including vision problems, tiredness, muscle aches, and stomach pain.

A young boy getting his temperature checked by a teacher using a infrared thermometer gun in school

How is CEPI responding to Ebola virus?

To date, two Ebola virus vaccines have achieved licensure and WHO prequalification. CEPI has supported the generation of clinical trial data for both of these vaccines. 

This includes funding trials to help expand access to these vaccines for vulnerable populations including people living with HIV, pregnant women, and infants.

Between 2019 and 2021, CEPI led a global consortium supporting the Democratic Republic of Congo Government to conduct a large-scale clinical study with a second investigational Ebola vaccine regimen, manufactured by Janssen, the vaccine arm of Johnson & Johnson. This was part of efforts to control the outbreak in the North Kivu region of the country.

Learn more about the impact of CEPI’s Ebola funding
Three researchers from University of Kinshasa looking at paper by lab machine

Ebola news

Dr Stella Adadevoh

The woman who helped to stop an Ebola epidemic in Nigeria


Searching for Ebola's hideout


CEPI and partners collaborate to advance key tools for Sudan ebolavirus vaccine research