New cases of Ebola in Beni prompt a vaccine rollout

At the risk of another Ebola outbreak, Beni begins vaccinating with its first 200 doses.

This past Saturday, the city of Beni in the Democratic Republic of Congo started Ebola vaccinations after two recent deaths due to the virus. A two year old boy was the first confirmed case since the outbreak that took the lives of six people in the country ended back in May. The boy lived in the same region as three people from the same family who passed away in September. The family was said to have presented with Ebola symptoms. The country is making use of a “ring vaccination” strategy which entails vaccinating whoever has been potentially exposed to the virus. The Congolese health workers are currently observing around 170 people. Beni has so far received 200 doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine to kickstart its campaign.

Regional health workers have conducted contact tracing to raise awareness and motivate people to get vaccinated. Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Regional Director for Africa at the WHO said “Ebola is a virulent, lethal virus that can spread aggressively and fast. But vaccines can create a firewall of protection around cases, stopping the chain of transmission, averting a potentially large outbreak and saving many lives.” During 2018-2020, Beni was at the epicentre of the outbreak resulting in the death of 2,200 people. The WHO is currently working with the local government in efforts to contain the outbreak. The WHO stated that it is common for random cases to occur especially after an outbreak. With the disease killing an average of 40% of the infected, a swift vaccine roll out is required for the nation.