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Russia ready to start shipping revolutionary Ebola vaccine to DR Congo

According to the Russian virology specialist, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the only country that needs the vaccine now

NOVOSIBIRSK, July 16. /TASS/. A groundbreaking vaccine developed at the Novosibirsk-based VECTOR State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology is likely to be shipped to the Democratic Republic of the Congo where an ongoing Ebola outbreak has already claimed 1,700 lives, VECTOR Director General Rinat Maksyutov told TASS, adding that talks were underway.

"The issue [of the vaccine’s deliveries to the DRC] is under consideration. Currently, the Ebola fever outbreak is raging across the DR Congo. At the moment, it is the only country which needs this vaccine and the issue is being negotiated," Maksyutov said, declining to comment further.

In late June, a Russian delegation, which included VECTOR specialists, visited Kinshasa to discuss the issue of Ebola vaccination in the DR Congo. At the meeting, the vaccine was presented to Congolese representatives. The Russian delegation offered their help in eradicating the disease.

Later, Anna Popova, head of Russia’s consumer safety watchdog, met with Marit van Lenthe, president of Doctors Without Borders’ branch in the Netherlands (MSF Holland), on the sidelines of the Moscow Urban Health Forum. They discussed how the vaccine could be used to immunize the scientists and doctors working in the epicenter of the outbreak.

The VECTOR center has developed and certified the Ebola vaccine that is believed to be the safest among its analogues. It has been put on the official list of medicines permitted in Russia for specific immunization against the diseases caused by the Ebola virus. The peptide vaccine differs greatly from its Western analogues as highly safe, effective, lacking any side effects, easily storable and transportable.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo saw Ebola outbreak in late July — early August, 2018. On July 28, healthcare agencies of the DRC’s North Kivu province informed the healthcare ministry about suspicious cases and deaths. Further research confirmed that it was the particularly danderous Zaire ebola virus. A mortality rate ranging between 25% and 90% was documented during previous Ebola outbreaks.

The World Health Organization describes the Ebola virus disease (EVD, also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever) as "a severe, often fatal illness in humans. EVD outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90%." Symptoms include a sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, a headache and a sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, a rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, bodily fluids and the tissues of infected animals or people. The incubation period lasts from two to 21 days.

The virus was first registered in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1976, with outbreaks reported in Sudan, Gabon, the Republic of the Congo, Angola, and Cote d’Ivoire. The latest Ebola epidemics in West Africa in 2014-2016 took more than 11,300 lives, with more than 28,600 people contracting the disease. The most lethal outcomes were reported in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.