DRC: Government Approves Ebola Vaccination to Fight Outbreak

KINSHASA MAY 30, 2017 (CISA) – The health ministry on May 29 approved the use of a new Ebola vaccine to counter an outbreak that has killed four people.

“The non-objection was given. Now there’s a Medecins Sans Frontieres team that is arriving (in Congo) today to validate the protocol with the technical teams,” Reuters quoted Jonathan Simba, a health ministry spokesman.

The vaccine, known as rVSV-ZEBOV and developed by Merck, is not yet licensed but was shown to be highly protective against Ebola in clinical trials published in December 2016.

As of May 26, DRC had registered 52 total suspected cases, including two that have been confirmed, the World Health Organization (WHO) spokesman in the country, Eugene Kabambi, said, adding that the situation appeared to be under control.

Simba said that the details of the vaccination campaign would be announced after a meeting of the health ministry and its partners.

WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said in Geneva that vaccination would be deployed “should an EVD (Ebola virus disease) laboratory confirmed case be identified outside already defined chains of transmission.”

“It would be offered to contacts and contacts of contacts of a confirmed EVD case, including health care workers and field laboratory Workers,” Jasarevic said.

According to experts, a vaccination campaign would present logistical challenges in Congo’s isolated northeastern forests, including transporting and storing the vaccine in special containers at the required minus 80 degrees Celsius.

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