The World Health Organization is making preparations to send an experimental Ebola vaccine to the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are hoping that this will prevent the current outbreak in the country from getting worse. The Democratic Republic of Congo has not requested the vaccine. No one knows whether they will. The drug regulatory agency will have to authorize the use of the vaccine.
The Gavi, WHO and Vaccine Alliance told STAT to prepare the experimental vaccine for use. STAT is also trying to determine how serious the outbreak is. Dr. Seth Berkeley is the CEO of Gavi. He stated that he does not know whether the vaccine will be used in the current outbreak. Gavi is an organization that provides vaccine to low-income countries. Dr. Berkeley also stated that everything has been put in place to send the vaccine if it is requested.
The outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo was reported to the World Health Organization in May 2017. There have been 20 Ebola cases reported in this country. Three people have already died. This is the eighth Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo. The current outbreak is in the northern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It only has a few roads, so it should be easy to contain the outbreak.
The three previous outbreaks that occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo involved dozens of people. The current Ebola outbreak location does have logistic issues. It may take a while to transport the investigators and medical supplies to the area. It will also take a while to get the patient samples back to Kinshasa, which is the capital of Bas-Ule.
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Additionally, it will be hard to get the vaccine to the area if the government opts to use it. The Ebola vaccine has to be stored at -80 degrees Celsius. This means that the vaccine will have to be transported in a freezer.
Merck is currently developing a vaccine. There are other vaccines being developed. However, there is only one that has been shown to protect people from the Ebola virus.
There was a clinical trial conducted in Guinea in 2014. The trial showed that the vaccine offered quick protection. This is important for controlling outbreaks. The ring vaccination design was used in order to conduct the study. People who were exposed to Ebola were given the vaccine.
Tarik Jasarevic is the spokesperson for the World Health Organization. He stated that if the Democratic Republic of Congo should use this same technique. Merck and Gavi agreed to have 300,000 doses of the vaccine available at all times. There are 800 to 1,000 doses of the vaccine available in Geneva.
Doctors Without Borders has sent a response team to the outbreak area. Berkeley stated that the Ebola vaccine is different from the Yellow Fever vaccine. The Yellow Fever Vaccine can be stored in different places. He is hoping that the outbreak will be over soon, and there will be no need to use the vaccine. He stated that this is the best scenario. However, if another outbreak occurs, then having the vaccine can prevent the outbreak from getting worse.
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