The Democratic Republic of the Congo is to introduce a second vaccine next month to combat the Ebola virus, According to the World Health Organization, Ebola virus has killed more than 2,100 people in the country.
“The health authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have announced plans to introduce a second experimental Ebola vaccine, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, from mid-October,” the global health body said in a statement.
In last week WHO said that as of September 17, DRC had registered a total of 3,145 cases of Ebola since the outbreak began over a year ago, including 2,103 deaths.
“This vaccine, which is given as a 2-dose course, 56 days apart, will be provided under approved protocols to targeted at-risk populations in areas that do not have active Ebola transmission as an additional tool to extend protection against the virus.”
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, said the second vaccine “will help ensure that we have potentially an additional tool to prevent the expansion of the outbreak and also a potential tool to protect populations before outbreaks hit areas at risk.”
The ongoing Ebola outbreak is the second-worst one in history after more than 11,000 people were killed in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia between 2014 and 2016.
Around 225,000 people have received the Ebola vaccine manufactured by German pharma giant Merck since August 8, 2018. But the MSF said earlier Monday that “this number remains largely insufficient”.
The UN’s health agency has been pushing for the introduction of the second vaccine, but the DRC health ministry under former minister Oly Ilunga had resisted such a move, citing the risks of introducing a new product in communities where mistrust of Ebola responders is already high.
Director-General of World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, praised the latest decision by DRC authorities, who he said “have once again shown leadership and their determination to end this outbreak as soon as possible”.
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