GOMA, Congo (Reuters) – Congolese authorities and health workers vaccinated more than 200,000 people against Ebola in August, the government said on Sunday, using a Merck vaccine they hope will help rein in the world’s second worst epidemic.
Figures released by the government’s Ebola committee showed that 204,044 people had been inoculated since August 8. A total of 1,980 people have so far died in this epidemic, of 2,950 people suspected to have been infected — clinically confirmed cases are a little lower, at 2,845.
It remains the second biggest death toll in the disease’s history, after a 2014-16 outbreak in West Africa that killed 11,300 people.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said on Wednesday it will fund the manufacturing of Merck & Co Inc’s investigational Ebola vaccine called V920. Another vaccine by Johnson and Johnson is available but authorities have yet to deploy it for fear of creating confusion among an already skeptical and sometimes hostile population.
“The only vaccine that has been used in this epidemic is (the one) … manufactured by Merck,” the committee statement said.
Ebola appears to be under control in the city of Goma in Congo but it has flared in other parts of the country, where aid workers are combating insecurity and misinformation on social media.
Reporting by Fiston Mahamba; Writing by Tim Cocks, Editing by William Maclean