The vaccination campaign to stem the Ebola outbreak in Congo started on Monday, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva.
“I’m pleased to say that vaccination is starting as we speak,” Tedros said in a speech to the annual WHO meeting of more than 190 member countries.
Tedros said he was pleased with the quick international response to the outbreak.
“I am proud of the way the whole organization has responded to this outbreak, at headquarters, the regional office and the country office,” he said.
More than 5,000 vaccine doses arrived in the central African country already last week, only about a week after the first confirmed cases became publicly known.
So far, 21 people in the central African country have have been confirmed to be ill with the dangerous Ebola virus, according to Congo Health Ministry data from Saturday. There are another 25 suspected and possible cases, for a total of 46.
Among the confirmed and suspected cases, the death toll stands at 26.
Ebola is disease that causes a haemorrhagic fever that often leads to massive internal bleeding and is often fatal. The last major outbreak was in 2014, in the eastern African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. It claimed 11,000 lives.
The WHO and its leader at the time, Margaret Chan, were criticized for their slow response to the eastern African epidemic.
“It’s concerning that we now have cases of Ebola in an urban centre [in Congo], but we are much better placed to deal with this outbreak than we were in 2014,” Tedros said.