WHO Experts Recommend New Ebola Vaccination Guidelines For DRC Outbreak As Violence Continues, Virus Spreads

Associated Press: City in Congo’s Ebola outbreak attacked by militia; 8 dead
“Militia fighters attacked a city at the epicenter of Congo’s Ebola outbreak on Wednesday after threatening health workers in the field, further damaging efforts to contain the deadly disease. At least eight people were killed…” (Maliro et al., 5/8).

CIDRAP News: With rising cases and dwindling stockpiles, WHO suggests alternative Ebola vaccination strategies
“[On Tuesday,] SAGE, the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts, released new guidelines to address several growing concerns about vaccination strategies currently being used in [the] Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Ebola outbreak…” (Soucheray, 5/7).

Reuters: WHO experts recommend ramping up Ebola vaccine after Congo cases surge
“…A large share of new cases are now occurring in people who were not known contacts of earlier patients, and the disease is spreading to areas where it is impossible to trace contacts and swiftly vaccinate them. [SAGE] 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…” (Miles/Kelland, 5/7).

Science: DRC expands Ebola vaccine campaign as cases mount rapidly
“…With SAGE’s approval, WHO now plans to use an even lower dose for the third ring, extending the vaccine even further. … A broader vaccine program for people at lower risk still may soon launch, too, with a different experimental product. The SAGE recommendations call for offering an Ebola vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson of New Brunswick, New Jersey, to everyone in a DRC ‘health zone’ that has a case of the disease, or even those in neighboring health zones. This will potentially protect even more people without affecting the stockpile of Merck vaccine, and also offers a real-world chance to test the Johnson & Johnson vaccine…” (Cohen, 5/7).

STAT: WHO broadens the pool of people who can get the Ebola vaccine
“…The changes must still be approved by ethics and scientific committees advising DRC’s health ministry. But professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe, director of the country’s national microbiology laboratory, welcomed the recommendations. … Merck and J&J are donating all the vaccine to the outbreak response…” (Branswell, 5/7).

Additional coverage of the SAGE recommendations is available from Agence France-Presse, New Humanitarian, and Science Speaks.