In DepthPUBLIC HEALTH

Plan to use second Ebola vaccine sparks debate

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Science  28 Jun 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6447, pp. 1221
DOI: 10.1126/science.364.6447.1221

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Summary

More than 1500 people have been killed by Ebola in the ongoing epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)—the nation's 10th such outbreak. Health care workers have been using a highly effective vaccine, produced by Merck & Co., to vaccinate contacts of people infected with Ebola as well as contacts of contacts and nurses, doctors, and others whose jobs may expose them to the virus. But the vaccine's supply is limited and because identifying contacts has been difficult, experts are now debating whether, and how, to deploy a second vaccine. A World Health Organization advisory group has repeatedly recommended offering additional vaccines to lower-risk populations in the DRC. After reviewing two candidates, it recommended a vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson that requires two shots. But how and where to use the vaccine is still being debated—and there are worries that introducing a second vaccine could have negative consequences.