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MSD's experimental vaccine to be used in fight against Congo Ebola outbreak

Published on 08/08/18 at 10:43am
The Congo river in the Democratic Republic of Congo

MSD’s experimental drug rVSV-ZEBOV will be used in tackling the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, after samples collected from hospitalised patients tested positive for the filovirus.

Vaccinations are set to begin today in the east of the DRC, according to a senior official at the health ministry as reported by Reuters. The experimental vaccine proved successful during an outbreak in north-western Congo just two weeks ago.

However health workers are likely to face difficulties due to the war torn state of the central African nation. While more than 3,000 doses of the Ebola vaccine remain in stock in the country’s capital Kinshasa, health workers are in the process of setting up a cold chain in order to keep the vaccines cool while in transit. The tropical climate and lack of reliable power supplies will make this task particularly difficult.

As stated by Peter Salama, the World Health Organization’s Deputy Director-General for Emergencies: “Here we are responding to an outbreak of a high-threat pathogen with one of the highest mortality rates of any known diseases, but in the context of a war zone. We are at the top of the degree of difficulty scale.”

As of yet, the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine is the only Ebola vaccine to have gone through phase 3 trials. As with the previous outbreak vaccination will focus on health workers and those who have come into contact with a confirmed case of the deadly disease.

“Teams are conducting investigations on the ground to identify the contacts of the confirmed cases, including health workers,” said Barthe Ndjoloko, who oversees the Health Ministry’s Ebola response.

Louis Goss

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