World Health Organization to send vaccines to fight new Ebola outbreak

This comes days after the first confirmed death in the Democratic Republic of Congo which also has 11 known sufferers (a health worker

According to both Stat and Reuters, the DRC granted the World Health Organization approval to use the investigational recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus-Zaire Ebola virus (rVSV-ZEBOV) in a ring vaccination targeting close contacts of Ebola patients.

WHO said that the Ministry of Health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is coordinating the response, and WHO is working with the agency.

The WHO director-general and Dr. Peter Salama, his deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response, flew to the DRC on Friday for meetings with government officials.

Only two cases have so far been confirmed in a laboratory.

The government has authorised the World Health Organization to use the VSV vaccine, which was trialled successfully in Guinea in 2015. But the vaccine is still experimental as it does not have a licence. Mbandaka, with a population of about 1 million people, is also reachable from Bikoro by water.

"Had a vaccine been available earlier in the Ebola epidemic, thousands of lives might have been saved", Jeremy Farrar, director of the British medical research institute Wellcome Trust, told the BBC in December 2016.




A massive outbreak that started in 2014 left more than 11,300 people dead in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The WHO was criticised for bungling its response to that epidemic, and so has moved quickly. There have since been sporadic outbreaks that have been contained including eight in Congo since 1976. But owing to remote geography and poor transport links, they tended to fizzle out rather than spread to become a national crisis.

The WHO has put Congo's nine neighbouring countries on high alert, especially the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic due to their connected river systems.

The disease - most feared for the internal and external bleeding it can cause in its victims owing to damage done to blood vessels - has already spread to three locations covering 60 km (37 miles) or more in Equateur province.

Angola, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi and the Republic of Congo - which border the DRC - have all been alerted.

Though additional information on the outbreak is limited, the event did not trigger a public health warning, the organisation said. Since the first recorded outbreaks in the 1970s, most have been both vicious and short-lived, with the very remoteness of the landscape and the means of viral transmission (through direct contact with the body fluids of infected patients) providing a kind of natural buffer.

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