To address the fresh outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the World Health Organisation (WHO) may deploy an experimental Ebola vaccine against the scourge for the first time since the United Nations (U.N.) agency gave it preliminary approval in April 2017.
A report published yesterday by the journal Nature, the aid group Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders) is discussing a potential vaccination campaign with the Congolese government.
That would require the approval of the WHO, which has not decided whether to call on the approved experimental vaccine or others in the development. WHO spokesperson, Tarik Jašarević, said: “We are taking this outbreak seriously because Ebola is always serious.”
The most recent outbreak of the virus, in West Africa from 2014 to 2016, killed 11,325 people; there have been several known outbreaks in the DRC, but none has been as severe as the West Africa’s.
According to Nature, there are now 12 candidates of Ebola vaccines in development. None is yet approved for sale, in part because the candidates were not ready for testing until there was marked reduction in the West African Ebola crisis.
But on April 27, 2017 the WHO’s advisory group on immunization recommended that an experimental vaccine called rVSV-SEBOV be deployed promptly should an Ebola outbreak arise.
Also, researchers from the University of Liverpool have conducted a study of Ebola survivours to determine if the virus has any specific effects on the back on the eye using an ultra wide-field retinal camera.
Two years on from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, especially in Sierra Leone many Ebola survivors are still presenting with symptoms of post-Ebola syndrome (PES), including joint and muscle pains and psychiatric and neurological problems.
An eye team led by Dr. Paul Steptoe, compared eye examinations of PES sufferers in Sierra Leone and the control population. A total of 82 Ebola survivors who had previously reported ocular symptoms and 105 unaffected controls from civilian and military personnel underwent ophthalmic examination, including wide-field retinal imaging.
Meanwhile, the federal government has set up a 10-man team to attend to any possible outbreak of Ebola in the country.
Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, who gave the indication after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting yesterday however, said no extra budgetary provision was made for the committee.
“We already have a standby team comprising 10 front line health care workers that would be moving to any location they are needed,” he said.
Also, in its resolve to prepare against any strain of EVD in Imo State, the state government yesterday said that it had put all necessary preventive and control measures in place to ensure it is contained according to medical protocol.
It inaugurated an Emergency Medical Response Committee chaired by the Commissioner for Health, Mrs. Ngozi Njoku to respond in the event of an outbreak.