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Ebola outbreak in Uganda worsens amid hope for vaccines

By Chukwuma Muanya (Lagos) and Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze (Abuja)
18 November 2022   |   4:19 am
As the first doses of candidate vaccines against the Sudan Ebola virus are expected to arrive in Uganda in the coming days, World Health Organisation (WHO) is boosting efforts to support the government-led response against the outbreak...

Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, attends a briefing for World Health Assembly (WHA) delegates on the Ebola outbreak. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

As the first doses of candidate vaccines against the Sudan Ebola virus are expected to arrive in Uganda in the coming days, World Health Organisation (WHO) is boosting efforts to support the government-led response against the outbreak, which has affected nine districts, including three complex urban environments.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, yesterday, during a virtual press conference, said a WHO committee of external experts has evaluated three candidate vaccines and agreed that they all be deployed to Uganda for a clinical trial against the Sudan Ebola virus – one of the six species of the Ebola virus genus.

Moeti said, unlike the Zaire Ebola virus, which sparked most of the recent outbreaks, there are no approved vaccines or therapeutics for the Sudan variant.

Lt. Col Dr. Henry Kyobe Bossa, Incident Commander, Ebola outbreak, Ministry of Health, Uganda, joined Moeti. Also on hand from WHO, to answer questions, were Dr. Yonas Tegegn, WHO Representative in Uganda; Dr. Patrick Otim, Incident Manager for the Uganda Ebola outbreak; Dr. Ana Maria Henao-Restrepo, Co-Lead Research and Development Blueprint for epidemics, Health Emergencies Programme; Dr. Walter Fuller, Technical Officer, Antimicrobial Resistance Programme; and Dr. Cheick Diallo, Technical Officer, Strategic Information.

Moeti said the aim of the randomised trial is to evaluate potentially efficacious candidate vaccines, and to possibly contribute to ending the ongoing outbreak and protect populations at risk in the future.