WHO, Partners Need $26m For Ebola Response In DRC

The WHO and partners will need $26m for the Ebola

Response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) over the next

three months.

WHO said on Monday that funding had been received from Italy, UN

Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), and Gavi – the Vaccine


The others are the U.S. Agency for International Development, the

Wellcome Trust and UK Department for International Development.

WHO said it had also released two million dollars from its Contingency

Fund for Emergencies, to scale up the Ebola response.

The Government of DRC, with the support of WHO partners, is preparing

to vaccinate high risk populations against Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)

in affected health zones.

The organisation said health workers operating in affected areas were

being vaccinated on Monday and community outreach had started to

prepare for the ring vaccination.

More than 7,500 doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine have been

deployed to DRC to conduct vaccination in the northwestern Equator

Province where 46 suspected, probable and confirmed Ebola cases and 26

deaths have been reported – as of Friday.

Most of the cases the oraganisation said were in Bikoro, a remote

rural town, while four confirmed cases are in Mbandaka, the provincial

capital with a population of over one million people.

The vaccines were donated by Merck, while Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

is contributing one million dollars towards operational costs, while

the Wellcome Trust and DFID had also pledged funds to support research


Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said: “Vaccination will

be key to controlling this outbreak. We are grateful for the support

of our partners in making this possible”.

The Ministry of Health with WHO, Medecins Sans Frontieres , UN

Children’s Fund and other key partners are implementing a ring

vaccination with the yet to be licensed rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine,

whereby the contacts of confirmed cases and the contacts of contacts

are offered vaccination.

Frontline healthcare workers and other persons with potential exposure

to EVD – including but not limited to laboratory workers, surveillance

teams and people responsible for safe and dignified burials – will

also receive the vaccine.

Dr Peter Salama, WHO Deputy Director-General for Emergency

Preparedness and Response, said there was the need to act fast to stop

Ebola from spreading.

“We need to act fast to stop the spread of Ebola by protecting people

at risk of being infected with the Ebola virus, identifying and ending

all transmission chains and ensuring that all patients have rapid

access to safe, high-quality care,” Salama said.

A ring vaccination strategy relies on tracing all the contacts and

contacts of contacts of a recently confirmed case as soon as possible.

WHO said teams on the ground had stepped up the active search and

follow up of all contacts, while more than 600 contacts have been

identified to date.

“Implementing the Ebola ring vaccination is a complex procedure,” said

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

“The vaccines need to be stored at a temperature of minus 60 to minus

80 degrees centigrade and so transporting them to and storing them in

affected areas is a major challenge,” Moeti said.

WHO had sent special vaccine carriers, which can keep their contents

in sub-zero temperatures for up to a week and has set up freezers to

store the vaccines in Mbandaka and Bikoro.

The UN health agency is deploying both Congolese and Guinean experts

to build the capacities of local health workers.

The Ministry of Health, WHO, UNICEF and partners are engaging

communities to inform people about Ebola, including the vaccine.

The vaccine was shown to be highly protective against Ebola in a major

trial in 2015 in Guinea, and among the 5,837 people who received the

vaccine, no Ebola cases were recorded nine days or more after


While the vaccine is awaiting review by relevant regulatory

authorities, WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation

has recommended the use of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine under an

expanded access/compassionate use protocol during Ebola outbreaks

linked to the Zaire strain such as the one ongoing in the DRC.