The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is currently facing the world’s second-largest Ebola outbreak on record. More than 3,000 cases, including more than 2,000 deaths, have been reported in the current outbreak to date, making it second only to the 2014-2016 West Africa epidemic.
In the current epidemic there have been 3,373 cases infections out of which at least 2,231 deaths, according to the latest count of the Multi-sectoral Committee for the Response to the Epidemic (CMRE) as at Saturday (December 28).
Authorities also indicate that “341 suspected cases are under investigation.” North Kivu and Ituri provinces in the east of the country are the most affected by the disease.
Control efforts are regularly disrupted there due to the insecurity caused by the presence of numerous militias. Ebola facilities are the target of attacks in these areas and members of Ebola teams have been killed or injured in armed attacks.
The DRC has decided to introduce Janssen’s investigational vaccine -a development at the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson- alongside other tools. Janssen committed to providing up to 500,000 vaccine regimens in support of the initiative in the DRC, and up to 200,000 regimens to the neighboring Republic of Rwanda to help stop the outbreak from crossing the DRC border.
Big pharma company Merck won a conditional marketing authorization from the European Commission for the Ebola vaccine Ervebo, the first to be approved. Soon after they received FDA approval for its Ebola vaccine,which was a first for both regions.
The current Ebola outbreak is the tenth on Congolese soil since 1976 and the second most serious in history after the one that killed some 11,000 people in West Africa in 2014.