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New Ebola vaccine enters real-world DRC test phase

November 14, 2019

Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo have started using a second vaccine to fight Ebola. The country is struggling to contain what is now the world’s second-worst outbreak of the deadly virus on record.

Ebola vaccination drive in Congo
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Delay

Health authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo started using a new vaccine to control the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, global health NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Thursday.   

Up to 50,000 doses of the Ad26.ZEBOV/MVA-BN-Filo vaccine will be administered in two health districts in the city of Goma, according to MSF, which is assisting the African nation's Health Ministry in implementing the rollout.

Read more: Ebola: What is the best vaccination strategy?

The primary objective of the rollout is to gain data on the effectiveness of the experimental vaccine in a real-world setting, the organization said.

The new vaccine has passed clinical trials, but has never been tested in a real-world setting.

Laboratory studies show that the drug generates an increased immune response against Ebola, but the only way to confirm its effectiveness outside of the lab is to introduce the vaccine during an epidemic, according to MSF.

Second-deadliest Ebola epidemic

The vaccine, produced by Johnson & Johnson, requires two injections eight weeks apart. It will be rolled out alongside another manufactured by Merck, which only requires a single shot.

The Merck vaccine has been administered to over 250,000 people since the start of the outbreak in August 2018.

For over a year, the country has been struggling to contain an outbreak of the deadly virus, considered the second-deadliest Ebola epidemic in the world. Over 3,200 people have been infected with the virus and more than 2,000 people died from the illness.

But the number of reported new infections has been falling steadily since June

A larger Ebola outbreak across much of West Africa, running from 2013 to 2016, claimed over 11,000 lives — also sparked urgent efforts to fast-track research on vaccines.


sri/msh (Reuters, dpa, AP, AFP)

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