New vaccine to be introduced in DRC to reduce the risk factor of Ebola

  •  The new vaccine would help ensure that there is potentially an additional tool to prevent the further expansion of the outbreak, says WHO’s Regional Director.
  • Johnson & Johnson vaccine will complement the pre-existing Merck vaccine that has helped protect thousands of lives.
Photo source Medical Xpress.

The lethal Ebola virus that has claimed 21,00 lives in the DRC is now to be controlled by introducing a second vaccine. The health authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo announced to introduce a second experimental vaccine for the virus. DRC as of September 17 had registered a total of 3,145 cases of Ebola since the start of the current outbreak, WHO reported.

The new vaccine which is to be introduced by next month is manufactured by Johnson & Johnson comprises the 2-dose course, 56 days apart. The vaccine will save the populations that do not have active Ebola transmission and are at high risk of getting the infection.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine will complement the Merck vaccine

Johnson & Johnson vaccine will complement the pre-existing Merck vaccine. Merck vaccine has helped protect thousands of lives and will continue to be provided to all those who are at risk of getting Ebola infection, read the statement from the World Health Organization. Some 223,000 people have received this vaccination during the current outbreak.

WHO’s Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said that the second vaccine would help ensure that there is potentially an additional tool to prevent the further expansion of the outbreak, adding that the potential tool to protect populations before outbreaks hit areas at risk.

WHO has been pushing to introduce the new vaccine but DRC’s health ministry under Oly Ilunga continued to resist such a move citing the risks of introducing the new product in communities where mistrust of Ebola responders is already high.

Also See: World Health Organization: All You Need To Know About Ebola Outbreak

Until now some 973 people have been successfully treated and released from Ebola treatment centers, and thousands of survivors will return to their communities in the coming weeks, said Dr. Moeti. The introduction of the second experimental vaccine is in line with the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) recommendations.

SAGE in May 2019 reviewed the use of vaccines during the current outbreak and issued directives of adjusting the dose of Merck vaccine under appropriate protocols, evaluating a second vaccine, and to change the vaccine strategies when insecurity makes it difficult to reach the people.

Vaccination Strategies

The main vaccination strategy used with the rVSV-ZEBOV-GP vaccine is a ring strategy in which everyone who is supposed to come in contact with someone with the confirmed case of Ebola is given the vaccine.

Targeted geographic vaccination is another approach to offer vaccination for the people at high risk of contracting the disease. This involves vaccinating everyone in the neighborhood, or village rather than vaccinating the selected people.

Number of Ebola cases from April 2018 to February 2019

Source: Ministry of Health, The Democratic Republic of the Congo.

How do you see the efforts to control the epidemic of Ebola in DRC and Uganda? Comment on Ebola risk management strategies

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