GSK hands work on potential Ebola vaccines to US institute

GSK hands work on potential Ebola vaccines to US institute

GSK hands work on potential Ebola vaccines to US institute

It's been about a year since the latest Ebola outbreak started in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Goma, a city of nearly 2 million individuals bordering Rwanda, is the capital of North Kivu Province, the region worst hit by the year-long epidemic that has killed more than 1,800 people and infected thousands more.

According to the World Health Organization, Ebola, which has a high mortality rate if not treated in time, is transmitted through direct contact with contaminated blood and body fluids. Any border closure is likely to push travellers to avoid official border posts, where people are checked for signs of fever and other Ebola symptoms.

At the border with Rwanda, crossed by an estimated 45,000 people each day, travelers have their temperatures taken twice on either side.

The East African country has been on high alert since two people, part of a family visiting from Congo, died of the disease. Rwanda briefly closed the border last week but re-opened it when experts warned the move would encourage illicit crossings. Congo's government condemned Rwanda's decision to close the border before it was reopened hours later.

A previous case in Goma led the WHO to declare the outbreak an worldwide health emergency three weeks ago, but it did not result in further transmission in Goma. His wife and daughter then tested positive for the disease. More than 200 people who came into contact with the miner have been tracked and 160 of them have been vaccinated, according to Congolese authorities.

A Congolese health worker administers Ebola vaccination to a resident at a centre in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a separate measure to control the spread of the disease, churches in Rwanda have advised people not to shake hands.

Through the trial of the vaccine, manufactured by a Belgian company, we will try to assess 'its safety and ability to provoke an immune response with the aim of fighting the virus, ' Kalebu specified.

Whether health authorities can apply lessons from those hotspots will determine if they claim victory in Goma or if the epidemic will hurtle toward the grim record of more than 11 300 deaths registered by West Africa's 2014-16 Ebola outbreak.

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