The World Health Organization has deployed 4,000 doses of vaccine along with emergency teams and equipment to the Democratic Republic of Congo to control an outbreak of Ebola, which is suspected to have infected 39 people, including 19 deaths.
The UN agency is working with the country's Ministry of Health and international nongovernmental organization Medecins Sans Frontières to conduct ring vaccinations across the affected region, where contacts of those infected, followed by contacts of those contacts, would all be vaccinated.
In addition to an importation license, the WHO needs formal agreement on the research protocols with the government and local ethical review board approval for reasons of liability, and legal and insurance issues associated with use of experimental products, he added.
Last week, Peter Salama, deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response at the WHO, pointed out that use of the vaccine comes with many challenges, as it needs to be stored long-term at temperatures between minus 60 and minus 80 degrees Celsius (minus 76 to minus 112 Fahrenheit).
West Africa experienced the largest recorded outbreak of Ebola over a two-year period beginning in March 2014; a total of 28,616 confirmed, probable and suspected cases were reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with 11,310 deaths, according to the WHO.
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