Ebola outbreak may explode
As an Ebola outbreak in a conflict-plagued region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to spread after 4 months, there’s a glimmer of hope: An experimental Ebola vaccine appears to be helping the communities it reaches. More than 40,000 people have received the vaccine, by far the largest use of it since a trial in 2015 showed it worked well. The vaccine’s effectiveness in this outbreak has not been formally assessed. But Peter Salama, who heads the Ebola response for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, says, “I think it’s having a major impact.”
WHO, which works in concert with the DRC’s Ministry of Public Health, can’t distribute the vaccine as widely as it would like, however, because of limited supplies, Salama notes. And the obvious targets for vaccination—people who have had contact with cases—have been difficult to identify and reach because of the ongoing conflict; a small number of front-line health care workers have even been caught in the crossfire.