DR Congo to introduce second experimental ebola vaccine


Health authorities in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have announced plans to introduce second experimental ebola vaccine, manufactured by Johnson and Johnson, from mid-October.

The information is on World Health Organisation (WHO) official website, noting that
the vaccine is given as a two-dose course, 56 days apart.

The vaccine, the information added, would be provided under approved protocols to targeted populations in areas without active ebola transmission as
an additional tool to extend protection against the virus.

It quoted WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, as commending DRC authorities for deploying the second vaccine to curb the disease.

“DRC authorities, in deciding to deploy the second experimental vaccine to extend protection against this deadly virus, have once again shown
leadership and determination to end this outbreak as soon as possible.

The evaluation of the second ebola vaccine would help to ensure that we potentially have additional tool to prevent the expansion of the outbreak,” he said.

According to Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, the vaccine will also be a potential tool to protect populations before outbreaks hit areas at risk.

WHO states that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will complement the current vaccine (rVSV-ZEBOV-GP, manufactured by Merck), which has proven highly effective and safe.

It assures that the Merck vaccine will continue to be provided to all people at high risk of ebola infection, including those who have been in contact with person or persons
confirmed to have the disease, noting that “over 223,000 people have received this vaccination during the current outbreak.

In May, WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE) reviewed the use of vaccines in the ongoing ebola
outbreak and issued recommendations.

These included adjusting the dose of the Merck vaccine, evaluating a second vaccine under appropriate protocols and changing strategies when insecurity makes it difficult to reach people.

The SAGE also recommended increasing the number of people vaccinated within communities with ongoing transmission, sometimes vaccinating whole villages.

The WHO DG confirmed that the recommendations by SAGE were being applied, noting that “in everything we do, we are driven by science.