With population at risk, Congo attempts new fight against Ebola

Congo and World Health Organization officials are trying to stave off another outbreak of Ebola, which has already killed 27 in the country

Members of a Red Cross team don protective clothing before heading out to look for suspected victims of Ebola, in Mbandaka, Congo. Karsten Voigt/International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies via AP)


The Democratic Republic of Congo will be the first region to receive an experimental Ebola vaccine that health officials believe will cease the spread of the infectious virus, reports CNN.

On Monday, Mbandaka, the DRC capital, home to 1.2 million people, will be ground zero to launch the experimental vaccine called rVSV-ZEBOV, said World Health Organization (WHO) spokesman Tarik Jašarević.

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By Thursday, healthcare officials expect to reach Bikoro, a rural area which they said is at the heart of the Ebola outbreak.

According to WHO, 27 people have died in the outbreak. Some 8,000 to 10,000 people will first receive the vaccine said Peter Salama, deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response at the WHO. The vaccine will also be given to people who have come in contact with those infected.

“We’re much better placed to deal with this outbreak than we were in 2014,” said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Ebola is a deadly and contagious disease, Those infected can suffer from severe internal bleeding, fever, diarrhea and vomiting. The disease is spread through contact with infected body fluids.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since then, the virus has been infecting people from time to time, leading to outbreaks in several African countries. 

Back in 2014, some 11,000 were killed within months in West Africa after an Ebola outbreak.

According to the BBC, the pharmaceutical firm Merck made the vaccine. It is not licensed but was effective in limited trials.

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Said Dr Michel Yao, from the WHO ”almost all of the people who were vaccinated could not get the disease,” after the trails in Guinea.

So far, the WHO has sent more than 4,000 doses to the Democratic Republic of Congo and plan to ship another batch soon.