WHO confirms strain of latest Ebola outbreak, to start vaccinations

The Ebola outbreak in Congo is confirmed to be the Zaire strain of the virus and vaccinations of health workers may start as early as Wednesday, a senior official of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

Peter Salama, WHO deputy director for emergency preparedness and response, gave the results of genetic sequencing in a tweet saying that analysis showed it was a new outbreak in North Kivu province.

“We can start using rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine as early as tomorrow.”

The experimental vaccine, which is manufactured by Merck, proved successful during its first wide-scale usage against an outbreak of Zaire virus on the other side of Congo in the northwest that was declared over less than two weeks ago after killing 33.

More than 3,000 doses remain in stock in the capital Kinshasa, allowing authorities to quickly deploy it to the affected areas near the Ugandan border.

The vaccine normally needs to be kept at 80 degrees Celsius below freezing (minus 112 Fahrenheit), although it can be stored for a couple of weeks at just above freezing.


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