Congo attempts to stem ebola outbreak with experimental vaccine
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Congo attempts to stem ebola outbreak with experimental vaccine

22 Aug 2018 (Last Updated August 22nd, 2018 13:19)

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has started using an experimental vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus after identifying it as the virulent Zaire strain. Ebola virus disease remains a public health threat; the DRC has already experienced two Ebola outbreaks in 2018, underscoring the need for continued efforts to develop an effective vaccine. This latest outbreak has spread to a region experiencing conflict and is suspected of killing at least 36 people during its first week.

Congo attempts to stem ebola outbreak with experimental vaccine
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has already experienced two Ebola outbreaks in 2018. Credit NIAID.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has started using an experimental vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus after identifying it as the virulent Zaire strain. Ebola virus disease remains a public health threat; the DRC has already experienced two Ebola outbreaks in 2018, underscoring the need for continued efforts to develop an effective vaccine. This latest outbreak has spread to a region experiencing conflict and is suspected of killing at least 36 people during its first week.

The testing and approval of an Ebola vaccine is a priority for global health officials, as further outbreaks are expected. The US hopes to get the FDA to consider approval for a vaccine in approximately 18 months. Out of the four Ebola strains that humans can catch, the Zaire strain is the deadliest, but it is also targeted by most of the vaccines and treatments. According to the World Health Organization, DRC officials are utilising 3,220 doses of Merck’s experimental rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine, wielding it as a ring vaccine where the people who are in contact with each infected person are vaccinated as well.

The promising vaccines, rVSV-ZEBOV and Janssen’s Ad26.ZEBOV, both come with an MVA‐BN‐Filo boost. Both vaccines are currently undergoing testing for safety and the ability to generate a response from the immune system, as well as other factors. The rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine, which is currently being used in DRC, could possibly be considered for FDA approval starting in 18 months, depending on how efficacious the vaccine proves to be during the trials.

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