The vaccine, which is called recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus-Zaire Ebola virus (rVSV-ZEBOV) is still experimental, but according to WHO's website, it proved successful in a trial in Guinea in 2015. "It's a targeted vaccination for people who are identified as possible contacts of people who have been infected", Tari Jasarevic, a World Health Organization spokesperson, told DW. Almost 30,000 confirmed and suspected cases were reported.
Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries are on high alert over risk of the ongoing Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) spreading to their territories.
The West African outbreak lasted for three years, infected about 28,000 people, killed 11,000 and spread out of Africa to places like the U.S. and Europe. The latest Ebola outbreak, however, is happening in the DRC, from where it all started.
The health agency will begin sending vaccines "as quickly as possible" to the northwestern town of Bikoro and surrounding areas, where 18 people are suspected to have died as a result of the virus in recent weeks, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a Twitter post on Friday.
Fortunately, the DRC has a good track record of controlling Ebola outbreaks, and the government is working closely with the World Health Organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to bring the situation under control. The cases are being reported from remote locations that are hard to access.
The WHO Director General, Deputy Director General for Emergency Preparedness and Response together with the WHO Regional Director for Africa will be in Kinshasa on 13 May to review operations and discuss further support to the Ministry of Health.
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The outbreak is now confined to the Bikoro, Iboko, and Wangata health zones, in Equateur province.
But the vaccine is still experimental as it does not have a licence. "It's a highly complex operation in one of the most hard terrains in the world".
At least 19 deaths have been tied to the current outbreak of Ebola virus in DR Congo.
Ebola virus disease, which most commonly affects people and nonhuman primatessuch as monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees, is caused by one of five Ebola viruses. The virus can also be spread through contact with objects contaminated by infected persons as well as direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected fruit bats or primates.
Three health professionals have already been infected with suspected Ebola, one of whom has died.
"At present", the agency added, "this event does not meet the criteria of a public health event of worldwide concern".