WHO braces for low Ebola vaccine supplies

The World Health Organization is creating a contingency plan in case Ebola vaccine supplies dwindle amid mass vaccination efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, reports STAT.

At present, half a million doses of Merck's Ebola vaccine are still available, according to Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO's health emergencies program. If the Congo's Ebola outbreak continues at the same pace, the agency should have enough vaccines available until Merck can replenish supplies in January 2020. 

However, if the outbreak escalates, the WHO could run out of vaccines.

"There are some epidemiological models that could see us running out of vaccine, should the situation worsen," Dr. Ryan told STAT. "And it would have to worsen fairly significantly; it's not just a small worsening."

Dr. Ryan said the WHO is working with mathematical experts to model how and when health officials should start using lower vaccine doses to limit shortages. 

As of July 23, the WHO has reported 2,620 confirmed and probable Ebola cases in the Congo, along with 1,762 deaths.

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