Experimental Vaccine Will be Used against Ebola Outbreak in the DRC

WHO gets approval to use Ebola vaccine in DRC

Last week, the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared a new Ebola virus disease outbreak, confirming two laboratory-tested cases. DRC has seen 18 deaths over the past five weeks, but Congolese authorities together with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other worldwide groups have now mobilized staff and resources to contain the virus.

The WHO has received approval to use an experimental Ebola vaccine, using a "ring vaccination" approach, around the epicenter of the oubreak in the Congo.

An air bridge for supplies and personnel will be established by the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) starting 13 May with daily flights scheduled from Kinshasa to Mbandaka and Mbandaka to Bikoro.

Three health professionals have already been infected with suspected Ebola, one of whom has died.

Nineteen people have died of Ebola in Congo as health officials plan to send an experimental vaccine to prevent the spread of the virus that killed thousands in West Africa a few years ago.

The equipment needed to keep the vaccine at subzero temperatures-the so-called cold chain-was arriving in the DRC on Sunday and would be set up in the next couple of days, he said.

In Congo, vaccines will also be administered to local and worldwide health care workers and front-line workers in both affected areas as well as the regions expected to be at risk should the outbreak continue to spread.

But it's still very worrisome, said Dr. Peter Salama, WHO's deputy director general for emergency preparedness and response. WHO experts say the outbreak has not yet met the criteria "of a public heath event of worldwide concern", which would require an emergency WHO Committee meeting.

Tedros said the DRC government has provided all the needed documentation to trigger use of the Merck vaccine, including an import permit. WHO's director-general met President Joseph Kabila and traveled to Bikoro together with DRC Health Minister Oly Ilunga.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has said that Nigeria's friendly match against the DR Congo is not under threat in spite of the Ebola outbreak in the country. At this stage, it can also only be used in the context of a clinical trial-plans for which are already in the works. This outbreak marks the ninth known time Ebola has broken out in the DRC. Here are some of the most recent epidemics. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.

Republished with permission from STAT.

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