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Johnson & Johnson to support Rwanda’s preparations against Ebola outbreak

Published on 09/12/19 at 12:54pm

Johnson & Johnson will provide up to 200,000 Ebola vaccines to the Republic of Rwanda, through its pharmaceutical subsidiary Janssen.

This is being implemented due to the current threat from the neighbouring country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which is currently experiencing its own Ebola outbreak.

There have been more than 3,300 cases of Ebola in the DRC, which has led to 2,200 deaths. This caused the World Health Organisation (WHO), back in July, to classify the DRC outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. It has been the worst outbreak of the disease since the 2013-2016 epidemics in West Africa. Johnson & Johnson have already been providing the ‘Janssen’ vaccines to the DRC.

Dr Diane Gashumba, Rwandan Minister of Health, said: “The Rwanda Food and Drug Authority have reviewed the trials made about this vaccine around the world and it has been approved that the Janssen vaccine is safe and that it can be given as a preventive measure. Therefore, Rwanda FDA granted conditional approval under exceptional emergency for Janssen’s Ebola vaccine regimen.”

Paul Stoffes, Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer of Johnson & Johnson, said that: “Johnson & Johnson recognises the Rwandan Government’s decision to proactively deploy Janssen’s investigational Ebola vaccine to help prevent the spread of the disease into the country. We stand ready to support Rwanda’s initiative on epidemic preparedness.”

8,000 volunteers across the US, Europe and Africa have participated in clinical studies of the Janssen vaccine, including 1,300 people from the DRC. Johnson & Johnson have made a significant investment in Janssen’s Ebola vaccine since the outbreak in West Africa.

Ebola was first discovered in the region where the DRC now covers in 1976. It is a virus that spreads through the body damaging the immune system and organs. It causes fever, body aches and sometimes internal and external bleeding.

In recent times, the most deadly Ebola outbreak came from Guinea in late 2013, and spread across West Africa. Over 11,000 people died from this particular epidemic.

Conor Kavanagh

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