WHO says Uganda to receive Ebola trial vaccine next week

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday said Uganda will receive the Sudan strain Ebola trial vaccine next week as the east African country grapples with containing the spread of the deadly disease.

WHO Representative to Uganda Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam told a WHO Africa Online Briefing that the first people who will receive the vaccine are people who have got into contact with confirmed Ebola cases and the health workers who are treating the patients.

“We have to get engaged with contacts and health workers and inform them of the benefits and the potential side effects,” Woldemariam said.

Henry Kyobe, incident commander for the Ebola outbreak at the Ministry of Health, said the trial vaccines have been tested before and are safe for humans.

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said WHO’s committee of external experts has approved the candidate vaccines for inclusion in the planned clinical trial.

Matshidiso said the start of the clinical trial marks a pivotal progression toward the development of the first vaccine against the Sudan strain. The officials said vaccines are some of the major tools that can be used to contain the spread of Ebola.

Ruth Aceng, Uganda’s Minister of Health, last month said the ministry will evaluate the efficacy of three trial vaccines, which include Oxford from Britain, Sabin, and Merck from the United States.

Aceng said the vaccines would be evaluated if they can protect the contacts of Ebola patients within 29 days of contact. WHO figures show to date there have been a total of 141 confirmed and 22 probable Ebola infections in Uganda, and 55 confirmed and 22 probable deaths.

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