Sunday, 20 May, 2018

World Health Organization sends first doses of experimental vaccine to tackle Congo Ebola outbreak

WHO preparing for the worst in DR Congo Ebola outbreak WHO preparing for the worst in DR Congo Ebola outbreak
Anna Jefferson | 18 May, 2018, 15:40

"Recent reports of media outlets and the World Health Organisation show that the disease is back in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo with 19 dead and 39 casualties recorded so far".

Health officials hope they can use it to contain the latest outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo, which the WHO believes has so far killed 20 people since April.

The vaccine, developed by Merck in 2016, has proven safe and effective in human trials, but it is still experimental as it does not yet have a license.

On Friday the United Nations health agency had announced that it was preparing for all scenarios, including the worst-case scenario, in the latest Ebola outbreak in DRC.

4,000 doses of the vaccine are to be deployed to ensure that the outbreak is contained.

On Friday the director of Bikoro Hospital in Equateur Province, Dr. Serge Ngalebato, announced one more suspected case there.

The Ministry's spokesperson Jessica Ilunga said this on Tuesday.

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"Majority of the cases are in the health zone of Bikoro; others are reported in the health zones of Iboko and Wangata". World Health Organization still needs Congo's final authorization, which is expected in the coming days, Dr. Peter Salama, the agency's emergencies chief, told reporters in Geneva. "Our current estimate is we need to vaccinate around 8,000 people, so we are sending 8,000 doses in two lots", he told Reuters in Geneva.

The WHO said 1,500 sets of personal protective equipment and an emergency sanitary kit sufficient for 10,000 people for three months were being put in place.

She said, "The Senate recalls with great distress that an infected immigrant who arrived Nigeria on the 23rd of July was the index case of the ebola virus in Nigeria".

"In our experience, for each confirmed case of Ebola there are about 100-150 contacts and contacts of contacts eligible for vaccination", Jasarevic said.

CBS News' Patta said the fact that there is a vaccine marks a significant difference between the outbreak in West Africa that started in 2014 and the outbreak in the Congo today.

Only two cases have been confirmed by lab tests.

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