The World Health Organization announces that an experimental vaccine against the Ebola virus could very quickly be tested in the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo affected by an epidemic.
For the time being, there is no vaccine registered to protect against this disease. But there is a promising vaccine candidate whose stocks could be channeled in a few days in the DRC if the authorities came to give the go-ahead, according to the WHO.
“Preparations are under way. We could potentially launch a (vaccination) campaign in about a week if all the conditions … are met, “Dr Peter Salama, WHO’s director of the emergency management program, told the media.
The DRC authorities announced a week ago that the country has faced its eighth epidemic in Ebola since the discovery of the virus on its soil in 1976. The disease was detected in a remote area of Bas-Uélé, About 1,300 km northeast of Kinshasa.
So far, 2 cases have been confirmed in the laboratory. 18 others are suspected, according to the WHO. In total, three people died.
It is the first outbreak of Ebola since the terrible epidemic that struck West Africa between the end of 2013 and 2016, causing more than 11,300 deaths of some 29,000 cases, more than 99% in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
During the epidemic, WHO was criticized for its lack of discernment in the face of the severity of the crisis, having lost months before declaring war on Ebola.
Last May, outgoing Director of the WHO, Margaret Chan, said that the world was not safe from a new epidemic in Ebola but “better prepared”.
The WHO explained on Thursday that it would like to set up a vaccination called “ring” or “belt” in the DRC.
This method involves vaccinating circles or groups of people in contact with a patient, first relatives, then subjects who have been in contact with them, and so on.
Health workers would also be vaccinated.
Such an immunization campaign would face significant logistical challenges as the vaccine should be stored at -80 degrees Celsius and transported to an isolated area.
“As you can imagine,” said Salama, “carrying out this operation” in an area without telecommunications, without a road and without a large electrical grid will be a huge challenge.