Ebola Vaccinations Begin in Response to Congo’s Last Outbreak

Aug 09, 2018
By BioPharm International Editors

On August 8, 2018, the Ministry of Public Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo announced the launch of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Ebola vaccinations for high-risk populations in the republic’s North Kivu province.

The vaccinations started one week after the announcement of a second outbreak of Ebola in the country in 2018. To date, a total of 44 cases have been reported, of which 17 have been confirmed, WHO reports.

3220 doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV (V920) Ebola vaccine are currently available in the country, while supplementary doses have been requested. While the vaccine goes through the licensing process, an agreement between Gavi, the vaccine alliance, and Merck & Co., the developer of the vaccine, ensures that additional investigational doses of the vaccine are available.

WHO provided logistical support for the establishment of the cold chain and sent supplies needed for the vaccinations. The organization is also supporting the negotiation of protocols with the manufacturer and national authorities and the deployment of vaccination experts from Guinea to work alongside national staff, who began the vaccination.

Preparations for the ring vaccination took place in the Mangina health area, 30 km (approximately 19 mi) from the town of Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo. The provincial health minister and the provincial coordinator of the Expanded Programme on Immunization were the first to be vaccinated, followed by first-line health workers from the Mangina health center who had been in contact with the confirmed cases of Ebola.

V920 was initially engineered by scientists from the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory and subsequently licensed to a subsidiary of NewLink Genetics. In late 2014, when the peak of the Ebola outbreak in western Africa was at its worst, Merck & Co. licensed V920 from NewLink Genetics, with the goal of accelerating the development, licensure, and availability of the candidate vaccine, according to Merck.

Source: WHOMerck & Co.

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