Ebola experts debate whether to test second vaccine

Experts will gather in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's capital city of Kinshasa June 28 to discuss whether to test a new Ebola vaccine, according to Science.

The DRC is currently using a highly effective vaccine from Merck & Co., but the country has recorded over 1,500 deaths in the second-largest outbreak in history. Healthcare workers must be selective in who receives the vaccine, since there are not enough doses for everyone: Only healthcare workers, contacts and contacts' contacts currently receive the vaccine.

Some argue the DRC should use a second vaccine to supplement the limited Merck supply. A World Health Organization advisory group recommends a Johnson & Johnson vaccine requiring two shots spaced eight weeks apart. 

Advocates for the vaccine say it could allow researchers to test the effectiveness of another treatment option and potentially vaccinate entire communities. Others argue it will drain resources from efforts to administer the first vaccine. They also say the presence of two vaccines could create more difficulties in persuading people to get vaccinated, since many already distrust the government and healthcare workers in the war-torn region. 

Experts also disagree on where to administer the vaccine, with some saying it should go to low-risk communities that have had Ebola infections while others argue for communities that have not yet had Ebola.

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