Rwanda has launched its first vaccination campaign against the Ebola epidemic in the west of the country, on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is causing chaos in neighboring Congo.
The Rwandan government plans to vaccinate 200,000 people in a year in the districts of Rubavu and Rusizi, north and south of Lake Kivu.
“The new vaccine, produced by a Belgian subsidiary (of the American laboratories) of Johnson & Johnson, will be administered to 200,000 people for 12 months,” said Rwandan Health Minister Diane Gashumba at a press conference.
“All countries in risk areas, even if they have not been affected by Ebola, were advised by the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of experts to use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to protect those who might come into contact with people living in areas where Ebola has been reported as active,” she added.
Using the same vaccine as the DRC
Rwanda is using the experimental vaccine Ad26-ZEBOV-GP, which was first used in mid-November in Goma, DRC, across the border.
The epicenter of the epidemic in the DRC, which has killed more than 2,200 people since August 2018, is located 350 km north of Goma in the Beni-Butembo region and marginally in the province of Ituri.
More than 250,000 people have been vaccinated in the DRC with a first vaccine, rVSV-ZEBOV, produced by the American group Merck Shape and Dohme. This is the first vaccination campaign against Ebola launched by the Rwandan authorities.