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WHO to introduce Ebola vaccines in affected areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo

By Ashok Ramsarup :: The World Health Organisation has heard the human cries of the people in Ebola-infected area of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where than 2,100 people had died from the dreaded disease.

WHO has made the announcement that DRC  is expected to begin using a second Ebola vaccine as part of efforts to help reduce the scourge of the epidemic that claimed hundreds of lives in the past year.

WHO has been hearing the pleas of the international, independent medical humanitarian organisation  – Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) that had been calling on the health body to urgently unlock and extend access to Ebola vaccines in the DRC.  MSF had been calling on the health authorities to establish co-ordination mechanisms allowing for transparent stock management, sharing of data and fostering of an open dialogue.

MSF said in a statement that despite vaccines and treatments that have been proven to be effective, the fatality rate of the current outbreak is about 67% —  which is similar to the data compared to the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

According to information on hand, an experimental vaccine manufactured by American-based pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson is expected to introduce medication from the middle of next month in areas that do not have active Ebola transmission.

WHO said: “The pharmaceutical company will complement another experimental vaccine manufactured by U.S. organisation Merck that administered that vaccine to about a quarter-million people so far.

MSF Director of Operations DR ISABELLE DEfourny said: “A significant issue is that the pace of vaccination activities is too slow and only a fraction of the eligible population is benefiting from this critical tool.”

Dr DEfourny said: “MSF believes increasing the pace of vaccination is necessary and feasible, for example, if between 2,000 and 2,500 people can be vaccinated daily it will have a greater impact instead of 500 – 1 000 as is currently the case.

“We have a vaccine that is proven to be safe and effective as our teams are ready to be deployed and there is no problem with the cold chain. There are enough doses to cover the current needs and to allow for an extension of vaccination coverage, as recently confirmed by Merck, the vaccine manufacturer

“ When there is enough awareness, the vast majority of the population wants to be vaccinated,”  added  Dr  DeFourny.

MSF confirmed that approximately 225,000 people have been vaccinated with rVSV-ZEBOV, an investigational vaccine produced by Merck that has shown very high levels of efficacy.

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

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