World Health Organization gets approval to use Ebola vaccine in DRC

The WHO has a stockpile of 4,300 doses of the vaccine in Geneva, Stat News reported. Merck has given its permission for the vaccine to be used in this outbreak. And it feeds into the Congo and Ubangi rivers-major waterways that connect to several large centers. Mbandaka, with a population of about 1 million people, is also reachable from Bikoro by water. The UN's World Food Program (WFP) has therefore facilitated an air bridge consisting of daily flights to transport staff, food and supplies to the region. But the vaccine is still experimental as it does not have a licence. The vaccine could arrive in Kinshasa on Tuesday, WHO spokesman Eugene Kabambi said.

According to the minister, it is everyone's responsibility to help fight such diseases by avoiding different areas where the outbreak has been identified, washing hands with clean water and soap, and initiating in quick medical tests whenever they feel any sign linked to Ebola in their body. "We have better weapons this time".

New Ebola outbreak has been declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo. From April 4 through May 13, 2018, a total of 39 cases have been reported, including three healthcare workers and 19 deaths. A person becomes infected after making contact with an infected animal, such as a fruit bat or primate. While outbreaks in remote areas usually mean the disease can be contained, on this occasion suspected cases have been reported in three locations spread over 60km.

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In addition, an experimental ebola vaccine, which was developed during the 2014 to 2016 Ebola epidemic but was too late to make an impact, will be deployed by the World Health Organization in the DRC. Called ring vaccination, it calls for vaccinating people who have been in contact with patients, and contacts of contacts.

But it's still very worrisome, said Dr. Peter Salama, WHO's deputy director general for emergency preparedness and response. "In Bikoro I saw first-hand the efforts the national health authorities and all our partners are investing in rapidly establishing the key elements of Ebola containment".

"We have agreement, registration, plus import permit, everything formally agreed already", WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Monday, adding all is ready now to really use it and vaccinations could begin by next Monday. At this stage, it can also only be used in the context of a clinical trial-plans for which are already in the works.

  • Ismael Montgomery