As the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Africa this week, another vaccine was being rolled out in Guinea, in a bid to stop a fresh outbreak of Ebola in its tracks.
Mass immunization got under way on Tuesday (February 23) after 11,000 doses of the Ebola vaccine landed in the West African country as part of an emergency response to the outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed on Twitter.
The Ervebo vaccines (rVSV-ZEBOV-GP) are the first to be drawn from an emergency stockpile housed in Basel, Switzerland. The stockpile, announced by the WHO, the vaccine alliance Gavi, and partners last month will eventually offer low and lower middle-income countries access to 500,000 doses of the Ebola vaccine.
Around 9,000 additional doses were also due to arrive in Guinea from the United States,COVID-19 response, the complexity of the cross-border dynamics and community engagement," he added.
The rollout in Guinea comes as Ghana became the first country outside India to receive COVID-19 vaccines via the COVAX facility, established during the global pandemic to ensure equitable access to the vaccines.
Wolz believes the Ebola response in Guinea must be rapid and well thought through in order to minimise the risk of the outbreak becoming as severe as that of 2014-2016. She hopes the availability of treatments will make it easier to encourage people to access health care and to quickly self-isolate.
"If the messages are appropriately communicated, we have o a much better chance of being able to conduct effective contact tracing and break the chains of transmission," she added.
During West Africa's first outbreak of Ebola, between 2014 and 2016, 28,000 people were infected and around 11,000 died in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.