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Doses of Ebola candidate vaccines expected to be shipped to Uganda next week: WHO

People walk through a shopping district in Kampala, Uganda, during the COVID pandemic.
IMF/Esther Ruth Mbabazi
People walk through a shopping district in Kampala, Uganda, during the COVID pandemic.

Doses of Ebola candidate vaccines expected to be shipped to Uganda next week: WHO


Three candidate Ebola vaccines for a proposed clinical trial in Uganda should be shipped to the country next week, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Wednesday. 

Uganda is going through a major outbreak of the deadly disease, and there have been 141 confirmed cases to date, and 22 probable cases.  

Confirmed deaths total 55, with probable deaths at 22, while 73 people have recovered from the disease.  

Global effort 

The outbreak was declared on 20 September.  Since then, the Ugandan authorities and partners have been working under a global effort coordinated by the UN agency to accelerate the development and deployment of vaccines for use in trials. 

Tedros said a WHO expert committee has evaluated three candidate vaccines and agreed that they all should be included in the planned trial. 

“WHO and Uganda’s Minster of Health have considered and accepted the committee’s recommendation. We expect the first doses of vaccine to be shipped to Uganda next week,” he told journalists. 

Meanwhile, a separate group of experts has selected two investigational therapeutics for a trial, as well as a trial design, which has been submitted for approval by WHO and the Ugandan authorities. 

Crises impact health 

Tedros was speaking from Bali, Indonesia, where he participated in the G20 Summit, which concluded that day. 

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He noted that although conflict, climate change, and the global food and energy crises have now overshadowed the COVID-19 pandemic as pressing issues for leaders everywhere, they all have profound implications for health. 

“The lack of food and energy, or their over-consumption, can have severe consequences for health and economies,” he said. 

“Protecting health against the impacts of these crises is essential, but it also helps to protect economies and societies.” 

Praise for G20 leaders 

Tedros congratulated the G20 for adopting a declaration that includes strong support for health and health security. 

“The G20 leaders said they remain committed to a healthy and sustainable recovery from the pandemic, and building towards achieving and sustaining universal health coverage under the Sustainable Development Goals,” he reported. 

The world’s leading economies also reaffirmed commitment to strengthen global health governance, with WHO leading and coordinating. 

They also welcomed the establishment of a new Pandemic Fund, among other developments.  

Going for goal 

Tedros will travel to Qatar on Thursday to participate in the opening of the football World Cup and to highlight how major sporting events can contribute to improving health for all. 

“The World Cup is one of the greatest shows on earth, with an estimated audience of five billion people,” he remarked. 

WHO is working with the Qatari authorities and international football association FIFA to deliver a healthy tournament, with a range of activities to promote physical and mental health, both in the Gulf nation and around the world. 

Promoting healthy lifestyles 

They have also established measures to reduce the spread of disease, including COVID-19. 

Other initiatives involve promoting healthy food options at stadiums and in “fan zones”.  Tedros added that tobacco is banned in all seating areas and in stadiums. 

WHO Goodwill Ambassadors Alisson Becker, goalkeeper on Brazil’s national team, and former Côte d’Ivoire striker Didier Drogba, will be supporting the agency’s work. 

Lessons learned from the World Cup will be shared with the International Olympic Committee to support preparations for the 2024 Summer Games in Paris, France, and the Winter Olympics in 2026, which will be held in the Italian cities of Milan and Cortina.