World Health Organization experts recommended a dramatic expansion of vaccination against Ebola in Congo after a surge in cases showed that the strategy of vaccinating those known to be exposed to the disease was no longer sufficient. Health workers fighting against the second worst Ebola epidemic in history are now implementing a “ring” strategy, vaccinating anyone directly exposed to known cases of Ebola, and a second ring of those exposed to people in the first ring. But after four weeks of sharp increases in cases, the World Health Organization’s strategic advisory group (SAGE) of outside experts said the vaccine programme was no longer big enough. It recommended a number of changes, including expanding vaccination to a third ring of people exposed to those in the second ring, and “geographic” vaccinations that would target everyone at a location without trying to track their exposure. To prevent supplies of the vaccine, made by Merck, from running out in a much larger vaccination programme, the WHO experts recommended using smaller doses. A second experimental vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson should also be rolled out.
SOURCES: REUTERS AFRICA