Ebola vaccine to the rescue in Côte d’Ivoire outbreak
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Cape Town - Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) has launched the Ebola vaccination of high-risk populations, including health workers and first responders in Abidjan, where an Ebola outbreak was declared on Saturday.
The outbreak in Côte d’Ivoire is the third this year after the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Guinea.
Since the Ebola outbreak was declared in Guinea earlier this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) had been supporting six countries, including Côte d’Ivoire, to prepare for a potential outbreak.
The country was able to swiftly begin the vaccination today with the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine manufactured by Merck secured by WHO to fight a four-month long outbreak in Guinea were sent quickly by Guinea to Côte d’Ivoire.
The vaccine deployment from Guinea included 2 000 doses that are being used under the “ring strategy” where people who have come into contact with a confirmed Ebola patient are given the vaccine, as well as first responders and health workers.
In addition, Guinea sent around 3 000 vaccine doses manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, which are to be used to boost the vaccination in areas not experiencing active transmission.
Guinea has also deployed five vaccination experts and provided monoclonal antibody treatments to Côte d’Ivoire.
“The Ebola vaccine is a critical tool in the fight against the virus and so it’s a top priority to move rapidly and start protecting people at high risk of the disease,” said WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti.
“The speed with which Côte d’Ivoire has ramped up vaccination is remarkable and shows that with effective sub-regional solidarity we can quickly take measures to extinguish lethal infections that can potentially flare up into large outbreaks.”
In addition to the confirmed case, one suspected case and nine contacts have been identified and are being monitored.
No deaths have been reported. There is no indication yet that the outbreak in Côte d’Ivoire is linked with the one that was in Guinea. Further analysis and genomic sequencing will help determine any connection.
To support Côte d’Ivoire’s efforts to control the outbreak, the first since 1994, WHO is deploying experts to join their country-based counterparts to help ramp up infection prevention and control, diagnostics, contact tracing, treatment, community mobilisation and cross-border surveillance. The organisation is also assessing whether additional vaccines will be needed to curb the disease.
In Guinea, the health authorities are stepping up surveillance, carrying out further investigations, identifying contacts in readiness for vaccination and readying an Ebola treatment centre.