Democratic Republic of Congo’sÂ health ministry has approved the use of a new Ebola vaccine toÂ counter an outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever in its northeastÂ that has killed four people, a spokesman said on Monday.
“The non-objection was given. Now there’s a Medecins SansÂ Frontiers team that is arriving [in Congo]Â today to validate theÂ protocol with the technical teams,” Jonathan Simba, a healthÂ ministry spokesman, said by telephone.
The experimental vaccine, known as rVSV-ZEBOV, was partially designed by the Canadian government and is being developed by the U.S.-based Merck Co. It is not yet licensed but was shown to be highlyÂ protective against Ebola in clinical trials published lastÂ December.
As of Friday, Congo had registered 52 total suspected cases,Â including two that have been confirmed, the World HealthÂ Organization spokesman in Congo, Eugene Kabambi, said byÂ telephone, adding that the situation appears to be underÂ control.
Simba said that the details of the vaccination campaignÂ would be announced after a meeting of the health ministry andÂ its partners set to take place on Monday or Tuesday.
A vaccination campaign would present logistical challengesÂ in Congo’s isolated northeastern forests, including transportingÂ and storing the vaccine in special containers at the requiredÂ minus 80 degrees Celsius.Â