A new vaccination campaign with an unlicensed Merck jab is set to start tomorrow, Wednesday, in the DR Congo.
It is still not clear on what scale these vaccinations will be, whether the 300,000 doses avaliable from WHO will be used or not, or when they will be used or who will control and record their use and any adverse events.
It appears that Who’s stockpile of 300,000 doses could, this time, be given without WHO declaring the new outbreak a health emergency of international concern, the “signal event” up to now for mass vaccination campaigns with unlicensed and risky jabs.
The 300,000 experimental Merck vaccines could still be given in the next few weeks if the DR Congo government agrees, it seems.
It is also not clear what role exactly armed forces, including the DR Congo army and the 20,000 UN peacekeepers in the country are set to play in providing security to vaccination teams.
It is not clear if “security” they are to give is guarding medical teams from rebel attacks as they move about the area or if security extends to guarding teams as they force vaccinate large numbers of people against their will.
The main media talking points of the Ebola outbreak this time are that it will be difficult to contain because it is in a conflict zone and because the population is in perpetual motion, crossing back and forth into neighbouring countries of Ruanda, Uganda and Burundi.
The conflict and population movements mean that contact tracing will be impossible, allowing Ebola to spread all over Africa, to Europe and the USA via migrants, planes etc
Access to the affected zone can only be gained with difficulty, preferably with armed escorts from the 20,000 UN peace keeping force based in Goma, 200 km south of the epicentre of the outbreak.
Risky vaccines are the only answer…