Experimental vaccine approved for use 'against' Ebola virus in Congo

Posted May 15, 2018

Here is a look at what authorities in the region are doing to address the outbreak. This factor triggered concerns that the epidemic that swept West Africa may happen again, especially after it was discovered that the first deaths from the current Ebola outbreak in the DRC happened in January.

The experimental Ebola vaccine was developed right at the end of the west African epidemic, and tests at the time showed it protected people from the killer virus.

A further 362 people at risk have been identified using contact tracing, said Dr. Ibrahima-Soce Fall, WHO regional emergency director for Africa. There is no specific treatment for the virus, and it can prove fatal in up to 90 percent of cases.

The country has experienced eight Ebola outbreaks over the past four decades.

"We have agreement, registration, plus import permit, everything formally agreed already", Tedros told reporters. While outbreaks in remote areas usually mean the disease can be contained, on this occasion suspected cases have been reported in three locations spread over 60km. Salama said the area is about 15 hours away by motorbike from the closest town and lacks the necessary infrastructure, Reuters reported.

The World Food Program has established an air bridge, a costly undertaking but one that is essential for moving people and materiel into Bikoro.

"It's going to be tough, and it's going to be costly to stamp this out", Salama said.

"That's our plan. And so far things are going as planned", Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, told Branswell on Sunday.

As the vaccine-provisionally called V920-is not yet licensed, the government had to agree to deploy it under a compassionate use protocol.

The UN agency is working with the country's Ministry of Health and worldwide nongovernmental organization M-decins Sans Fronti-res to conduct ring vaccinations across the affected region, where contacts of those infected, followed by contacts of those contacts, would all be vaccinated. It must be kept at -60 to -80 degrees Celsius (-76°F to -112°F), creating huge logistical challenges.

In 2014, Pauline Cafferkey, a British aid worker was diagnosed with Ebola at Glasgow's Gartnaval General Hospital. Outbreaks had never reached a global scale and critics noted that it had been neglected due in part to it having never having affected Western countries.

People have some of the same cultural practices that contributed to Ebola's explosive spread in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, including the common use of faith healers and burials that involve handling the body. So far, 19 people have died of the highly-contagious hemorrhagic fever and another 39 cases are suspected.