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Health & FitWHO experts recommend ramping up Ebola vaccine after Congo cases surge

17:56  08 may  2019
17:56  08 may  2019 Source:   reuters.com

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Frequently Asked Questions. Compassionate use of Ebola vaccine in the context of the Ebola An investigational vaccine called rVSV-ZEBOV, which has shown to be safe and protective against the SAGE recommends vaccination of health care workers and frontline workers who may be in contact

WHO 's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) therefore recommended "expanding the population eligible for vaccination " with the already deployed rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine , the statement said. That vaccine , developed by Merck, remains unlicenced but has been widely shown to be safe

WHO experts recommend ramping up Ebola vaccine after Congo cases surge© Reuters/BAZ RATNER A health worker measures the temperature of a man entering the ALIMA Ebola treatment centre in Beni GENEVA (Reuters) - World Health Organization experts recommended on Tuesday a dramatic expansion of vaccination against Ebola in Congo after a surge in cases showed that the strategy of vaccinating those known to be exposed to the disease was no longer sufficient.

Health workers fighting against the second worst Ebola epidemic in history are now implementing a "ring" strategy, vaccinating anyone directly exposed to known cases of Ebola, and a second ring of those exposed to people in the first ring.

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WHO Assistant Director-General Dr. Marie Paule Kieny unveiled a three-part strategy to fast-track Ebola vaccine development and distribution. The first phase involves the two most promising vaccine candidates -- one from GlaxoSmithKline and the other from the Canadian government known as VSV.

Ebola vaccine was among the topics that the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunizations discussed this week at its meeting in Geneva. The VSV-EBOV vaccine contains live virus, which typically isn't recommended for use in pregnant women.

But after four weeks of sharp increases in cases, the World Health Organization's strategic advisory group (SAGE) of outside experts said the vaccine programme was no longer big enough.

A large share of new cases are now occurring in people who were not known contacts of earlier patients, and the disease is spreading to areas where it is impossible to trace contacts and swiftly vaccinate them.

It recommended a number of changes, including expanding vaccination to a third ring of people exposed to those in the second ring, and "geographic" vaccinations that would target everyone at a location without trying to track their exposure.

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Health experts are pushing to find contacts of those infected, having already located more than 1,000. Nearly 500 people have been vaccinated in Mbandaka Although WHO said "more than half" of newly confirmed Ebola cases had been previously identified, a substantial portion of cases are showing up

GOMA, Congo (Reuters) - Health workers in Congo were setting up refrigerators on Monday to keep cool an Ebola vaccine needed to tackle an outbreak suspected to Giving the latest figures on the epidemic, which was declared just days after an outbreak in northwestern Congo 2,500 miles away

To prevent supplies of the vaccine, made by Merck, from running out in a much larger vaccination programme, the WHO experts recommended using smaller doses. A second experimental vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson should also be rolled out.

"We know that vaccination is saving lives in this outbreak,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. "These recommendations account for ongoing insecurity and incorporate feedback from experts and from the affected communities that will help us continue to adapt the response."

Jeremy Farrar, an infectious disease specialist and director of the Wellcome Trust global health charity, welcomed the recommendations and described the Congo outbreak as "in a truly frightening phase".

"If there is any hope of bringing it under control there has to be a significant shift in the response," he said in a comment emailed to Reuters. "Without support for this new approach this epidemic could reach the scale of the terrible events in West Africa in 2013-2016."

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WHO 's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) therefore recommended "expanding the population eligible for vaccination " with the already deployed rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine , the statement said. That vaccine , developed by Merck, remains unlicenced but has been widely shown to be safe

Two cases of Ebola have been confirmed. Congo 's Ministry of Health has requested that WHO send 4,000 doses of the vaccine , said ministry spokeswoman Jessyca The Ebola vaccination campaign will first target health workers, Ilunga said. Three nurses are among those with suspected cases , and

Farrar was referring to the largest Ebola outbreak in history, which infected 28,000 people in a vast epidemic that spread through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone between 2013 and 2016. More than 11,300 people died.

In the current Congo outbreak, the WHO says more than 111,000 people have been vaccinated since August. So far 1,045 of the 1,572 people with confirmed or probable Ebola have died in the outbreak, which has hit areas long prone to unrest.

SAGE said the number of cases had risen rapidly in the past four weeks because security incidents had dramatically affected the tracing and monitoring of people who may have come into contact with Ebola.

The Merck vaccine could run short if the outbreak continues, and doses should be halved to 0.5 ml for the primary and secondary rings, SAGE said, while they also proposed vaccination of a tertiary ring of contacts, who would receive 0.2 ml.

(Reporting by Tom Miles in Geneva. Additional reporting by Kate Kelland in London; editing by John Stonestreet and xxx)

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