Despite concerns, DR Congo plans roll out of second Ebola vaccine

FILE PHOTO: A Congolese health worker administers Ebola vaccine to a boy who had contact with an Ebola sufferer in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, August 18, 2018. REUTERS/Olivia Acland/File Photo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is to introduce a second vaccine next month to combat the Ebola virus, which has killed more than 2,100 people in the country, the World Health Organization said Monday.

The announcement came as the aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) accused the WHO of rationing the first Ebola vaccine in the DRC.

“The health authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have announced plans to introduce a second experimental Ebola vaccine, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, from mid-October,” the global health body said in a statement.

“This vaccine, which is given as a 2-dose course, 56 days apart, will be provided under approved protocols to targeted at-risk populations in areas that do not have active Ebola transmission as an additional tool to extend protection against the virus.”

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, said the second vaccine “will help ensure that we have potentially an additional tool to prevent the expansion of the outbreak and also a potential tool to protect populations before outbreaks hit areas at risk.”

However, Oly Karenga, former health minister for the DR Congo, says the second vaccine has not been proven effective and could only add to the confusion and mistrust many local populations already have about Ebola and its treatment.

The ongoing Ebola outbreak is the second-worst one in history with more than 3,000 people have been infected.

2,103 people have died.

WHO was heavily criticized for its sluggish response to the crisis, which it repeatedly declined to declare a global emergency until the virus spread explosively.