Hundreds of possible contacts of eight people infected with Ebola in Guinea have been vaccinated with an experimental Merck vaccine. The exercise dubbed ‘ring vaccination’, aims to prevent possible flare ups and save lives.
Testing of Merck vaccine, produced by an American laboratory, began in March 2015 in Guinea. Analysis of the results demonstrated the effectiveness of the vaccine and it has since been used in Liberia.
800 people have previously been vaccinated in the country, following the confirmation of eight new cases. 1,000 contacts of the eight latest Ebola cases have been identified and are under medical observation.
On Thursday, a woman died in Liberia after contracting the disease, health authorities announced.
The WHO said earlier this week that all original chains of virus transmission had now ended, although new clusters of infections would continue to occur due to reintroductions of the virus. The Ebola virus is known to persist in the semen of male survivors for a year or more.
Merck’s VSV-EBOV vaccine was shown in a clinical trial last year to be highly effective in preventing Ebola infection. It has since been used in Sierra Leone to contain a flare-up.
The “ring vaccination” strategy involves swiftly vaccinating anyone who has come into contact with a person infected with Ebola, as well as contacts of theirs.
The WHO said it had a team of 75 staff members working in the affected areas to support the government-led response, including epidemiologists, surveillance experts and infection prevention and control experts.