The Ugandan authorities announced on Friday that they would vaccinate medical personnel near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Ebola) next week (DRC), currently affected by the epidemic. "The Ebola vaccine will be used for first-line health workers" – those who work in 40 health centers near the border with DRCHealth Minister Jane Ruth Aceng said at a press conference.
For the first time, the Ebola vaccine will be used in a country where no case of this hemorrhagic fever has been reported.
However, with a large number of people moving between the two countries, the risk of transferring the virus across the border to Uganda is considered "very high" – the minister warned.
Ten new deaths were recorded within four days in the east DRC, bringing to 180 the number of dead, announced on Friday the Congolese authorities.
This is the tenth epidemic of Ebola referred to in DRC, where the disease was first detected in 1976.
Over 25,000 people have already been vaccinated in the east DRC since August. This epidemic affects the area of "high level of uncertainty" due to the presence of many foreign and local armed groups.
Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, a representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Uganda, assured that the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine was almost 100% effective and practically safe.
"So far, no serious risk has been reported, just a simple reaction to the vaccine," he said.
The Ugandan authorities, which currently have 2,100 doses of vaccine, but hope to quickly increase this number to 3,000, will ensure that vaccination will be voluntary.
This experimental vaccine was developed as a result of the devastating Ebola outbreak that has affected western Africa since the end of 2013. Until 2016, resulting in more than 11 300 deaths.
Developed by the Canadian Public Health Agency, it was considered by the WHO as "very effective", but only against the Ebola virus strain in Zair.