Kuala Lumpur, 18 April — An experimental vaccine deployed last year is estimated to be 97.5 percent effective to the Ebola virus, according to a World Health Organisation research paper.
The rVSV-ZEBOV-GP Ebola vaccine, has been provided to over 90,000 people, including nearly 30,000 health care and front line workers, in the current outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The ongoing outreak which began in August 2018, is the second largest Ebola outbreak on record. It has infected at least 1,273 people and killed 821. The deployment of the vaccine has likely saved thousands of lives.
Though the virus is currently contained to two areas: the North Kivu and Ituri provinces of the DRC, the region’s proximity to South Sudan, Uganda, and Rwanda, present a major risk.
The vaccine contains a harmless live attenuated virus engineered to express a glycoprotein of Ebola. This lets the immune system become aware of how to fight the Zaire strain of Ebola, before actually being exposed to infection.
A strategy called ‘ring vaccination’ is being utilised, where vaccination is only imposed on those who are most likely to be infected, such as a community group where someone has developed Ebola.
Produced by Merck & Co, almost 145,000 doses have been shipped, with around 100,000 more in the next few months.
The WHO has opted not to declare a global health emergency, after an emergency panel of experts met in Geneva last Friday.