Ebola Vaccinations Launch in Western Africa

Merck’s Ervebo (rVSV-ZEBOV) Ebola vaccine deployed in Guinea
young Guinea african girl smiling
Guinea (Vax Before Travel)

Ebola vaccination of people at high risk in Guinea launched as an emergency response was escalated, said the World Health Organization (WHO).

The new vaccination program is to counter the spread of the Ebola virus that re-emerged in Guinea’s western Africa country for the first time since 2016.

The vaccination campaign was launched in Gouecke, a rural community in N’Zerekore prefecture, where the first cases were detected on February 14, 2021. N’Zerekore is Guinea’s second-largest city and is close to the border with Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire.

The vaccination began after Guinea received more than 11,000 doses of Merck’s Ervebo (rVSV-ZEBOV) Ebola vaccine, which WHO sent. 

In addition, the WHO is organizing the deployment of over 8,500 doses directly from Merck.

The vaccination uses the “ring strategy” where all people who have come into contact with a confirmed Ebola patient are given the vaccine as well as frontline and health workers.

“The last time Guinea faced an Ebola outbreak, vaccines were still being developed,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 

“With the experience and expertise it has built up, combined with safe and effective vaccines, Guinea has the tools and the know-how to respond to this outbreak. WHO is proud to support the government to engage and empower communities, to protect health and other frontline workers, to save lives and provide high-quality care.”

The Ebola vaccine’s quick rollout is due to Guinea’s capacity during the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak.

“The speed with which Guinea has managed to start up vaccination efforts is remarkable and is largely thanks to the enormous contribution its experts have made to the recent Ebola outbreaks in the DRC,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. 

“Africans supporting fellow Africans to respond to one of the most dangerous diseases on the planet is a testament to the emergency response capacity we have built over the years on the continent.”

Guinea has developed ultra-cold chain capacity with vaccine carriers, keeping the vaccine doses in sub-zero temperatures for up to one week.

Around 50 WHO international and national experts, including vaccinators, are already on the ground in Guinea, and by the end of February 2021, more than 100 WHO experts are expected to be part of the response to bring the Ebola outbreak under control.

Vax-Before-Travel publishes research-based travel vaccine news.