After Africa suffered the onslaught of last year’s Ebola Outbreak and was finally declared victorious over it, the hope was that the continent and the world as a whole would be better prepared next time around.
The World Health Organization worked towards that hope and when an Ebola Outbreak was declared in DR Congo on May 12 after three deaths were confirmed, both the government of DR Congo and WHO brought out the big guns.
Their weapon of choice is a new, experimental, WHO-backed vaccine. Initially, the United Nations health agency said there was no cause for panic but there have already been as many as 52 suspected cases reported since then and no one is willing to take any chances. DR Congo’s health ministry chose to step up the country’s response bey approving the experimental vaccine in the hopes that it will stop the outbreak in its tracks.
The vaccine, rVSV-ZEBOV, was shown in published findings to have a 100% protection rate. Trials of the vaccine were conducted in Guinea and thousands of people tested were all confirmed as virus-free within 10 days.
At the time, WHO said that the vaccine will not be available for mass use until 2018 but pharmaceutical giants Merck, backed by GAVI, a global vaccine alliance, managed to make available about 300,000 doses of the vaccine in case of an outbreak.
It would seem that the concise preparation will pay off for DR Congo and its citizens. Officials have said that up to 400 people that may have had contact with some of the individuals suspected of carrying the virus. Efforts are still being made to track down the individuals.
Everyone is trying to avoid the remunerations of last time when the Ebola outbreak wiped out over 11,000 people across Africa from countries like; Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
DR Congo has managed to, so far, contain the virus but some people attribute that success to the outbreak’s occurrence in a remote part of the country’s northeast. there are fears that this same advantage over the virus may prove to be a disadvantage later on as the remoteness of the area could hamper a vaccination campaign.
Officials looking to curb the Ebola outbreak will have to contend with issues such as difficult logistics and appropriate storage for the vaccine which needs to be kept in containers set at a temperature of -80 degrees Celsius.