Congolese authorities will not approve the use of an experimental vaccine manufactured by a Belgian pharmaceutical firm to fight the outbreak of Ebola in the region, which was this week declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
On Friday, the health authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where 1,600 people have already died from an Ebola outbreak, said that the vaccine would cause “confusion” among the population, according to Le Soir.
Health Minister Oly Ilunga said “communication and trust problems,” could arise with the new experimental vaccine, according to the outlet, and that he would not approve it for fears that it would cause “confusion” within local communities.
After it received the approval of the WHO, the vaccine, of Belgian, Dutch and Danish manufacture, was sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo at the start of May.
The Belgian vaccine was meant to be administered alongside a U.S.-made vaccine, and its export to the country came at a time where the WHO issued warnings that more people needed to be vaccinated in order to contain the outbreak.
The stock sent to the country would allow for half a million people in the country to be vaccinated against Ebola.
The news comes after the WHO this week declared the outbreak an international public health emergency — the highest level of alarm that can be issued by the institution and which has only been declared four times before.