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New Ebola Vaccine Arrives in the Democratic Republic of Congo

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By Ashok Ramsarup ::  The Democracy Republic of Congo’s Health Ministry has announced the introduction of a new vaccine in the fight against Ebola in Central Africa, the largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa with an estimated population of almost 87 million people.

The independent international medical humanitarian organisation  – Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins  – Sans Frontières (MSF) – has confirmed that 23 000 doses of the Ad26.ZEBOV/MVA-BN-Filo vaccine reached two health districts in Goma.

MSF working in conjunction with international organisations initiated this clinical study and it will manage its implementation in collaboration with DRC’s Ministry of Health and the Institut National de Recherche Biomedicale.

It said in a statement that the MSF community engagement teams were engaged with people in Majengo and Kahembe health districts in Goma, to share information about the vaccine and answer their questions. “The two districts have been identified in collaboration with health authorities as to the first to be offered the vaccine,” according to the statement.

MSF’s Project Lead for this vaccination JOHN JOHNSON said trained immunisation teams would initially administer the vaccine to adults and children aged one and other in two sites, with four more to be established soon.

In terms of the study protocol, Johnson said: “It will initially target 50,000 people over a four-month period. “Vaccination is one of the key tools to protect people from the Ebola virus. Merck’s rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine has been proven to be effective and has become a valuable resource in the fight against the epidemic.

The introduction of a second vaccine is not meant to replace the rVSV vaccine, but to complement it and hopefully provide us with an additional tool in the fight against future Ebola outbreaks,”  said Johnson.

He added that the primary objectives of introducing the second  vaccine were to gain data on the effectiveness of the vaccine in a real-world setting as laboratory studies showed that this vaccine generated an increased immune response against Ebola, but the only way to confirm its effectiveness outside of the lab was  to introduce the vaccine during an epidemic.

Ashok Ramsarup is award-winning senior journalist of South Africa 🇿🇦

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