Congo has begun Ebola vaccinations among outbreak

Three vaccination teams are on the ground and will focus on reaching all people at high risk.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that Ebola vaccines have begun in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to combat an outbreak in the northwest city of Mbandaka. So far, two people are reported to have died in the metropolis of nearly one million people, which is located near road, water, and air linkages to the capital Kinshasa. The first death occurred on April 21, and the second occurred on Tuesday, marking the 14th Ebola outbreak in the central African country. The WHO stated that 200 doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine had been shipped to Mbandaka from the eastern city of Goma, with more due in the coming days. So far 233 contacts have been identified and are being monitored, it added.

Three vaccination teams have arrived on the scene and will focus on reaching all individuals who are considered to be of high-risk. "With effective vaccines at hand and the experience of the Democratic Republic of the Congo health workers in Ebola response, we can quickly change the course of this outbreak for the better," WHO Africa Director Matshidiso Moeti said in the statement. Congo's equatorial forests are a natural reservoir for the Ebola virus, which was discovered near the Ebola River in northern Congo in 1976. There have been 13 prior Ebola outbreaks in the country, the most recent of which occurred in the east in 2018-2020, killing approximately 2,300 people, the second highest toll in the history of the hemorrhagic illness.