Aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) yesterday accused the World Health Organization (WHO) of rationing the Ebola vaccine in the Democratic Republic of Congo where more than 2,100 people have died of the deadly virus. "One of the main problems currently is the fact that in practice the vaccine is rationed by the WHO and that too few people at risk are protected today," MSF said in a statement. It called for "the creation of an independent international coordination committee" to "guarantee the transparency of the management of stocks and data sharing."
Around 225,000 people have received the Ebola vaccination manufactured by German pharma giant Merck since August 8, 2018, "but this number remains largely insufficient," MSF said. The WHO denied limiting the availability of the drug, saying it was doing "everything possible" to end the epidemic. The U.N. health agency in a statement yesterday said the second vaccine, made by Johnson & Johnson, will be used from October in areas where Ebola is not actively spreading.
DR Congo, in central Africa, has been battling an Ebola epidemic for more than a year. The current outbreak, which started on Aug. 1 last year, is the second largest in history. After the first person to contract the disease in Goma died last month, WHO declared the outbreak an international health emergency. Rwanda and other neighboring countries – South Sudan, Uganda and Burundi – are now on high alert.
The Ebola virus causes fever, vomiting and severe diarrhea, often followed by kidney and liver failure, internal and external bleeding. The disease is spread by contact with infected bodily fluids and is fought with the time-honored but laborious technique of tracing contacts and quarantining them.
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