WHO warns there may be no vaccine option for new Ebola outbreak

  • The World Health Organization said it may be impossible to use a vaccine to tackle Democratic Republic of Congo's new Ebola outbreak.
  • The strain has spread over tens of kilometers since May.
  • Officials have not yet confirmed the strain of Ebola that has killed 20 people and sickened four more, including two health workers, and it could be the Zaire, Sudan or Bundibugyo strain.
A World Health Organization (WHO) worker administers a vaccination during the launch of a campaign aimed at beating an outbreak of Ebola in the port city of Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of Congo May 21, 2018.
Kenny Katombe | Reuters
A World Health Organization (WHO) worker administers a vaccination during the launch of a campaign aimed at beating an outbreak of Ebola in the port city of Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of Congo May 21, 2018.

It may be impossible to use a vaccine to tackle Democratic Republic of Congo's new Ebola outbreak, which has spread over tens of kilometers and may have begun in May, a senior World Health Organization official said on Thursday.

Officials have not yet confirmed the strain of Ebola that has killed 20 people and sickened four more, including two health workers, and it could be the Zaire, Sudan or Bundibugyo strain, WHO's emergency response chief Peter Salama said.

If it is the Zaire strain, the Merck vaccine used in the last outbreak may be an option, otherwise the situation will be much more complex "and we may not have any vaccine options," he told Reuters at WHO's headquarters in Geneva.