Fighting Yellow Fever in the DRC

Sep 7, 2016

A preventive vaccination campaign against yellow fever was launched on August 17th in the Democratic Republic of Congo by the government. The United States, through USAID and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, has provided crucial support to the response to the epidemic of yellow fever.

USAID used its approximately $1 million established PREDICT project to resupply l'Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale with needed materials to continue yellow fever diagnostics. USAID also worked through an existing partner to assist CDC to procure needed materials and person-time for a study investigating immunogenicity of the fractional/minimal dosing of yellow fever vaccine.

It is estimated that the use of the fractional/minimal dosing in this campaign can confer up to a year of immunity for vaccinated individuals.

Yellow fever vaccine
Yellow fever vaccine

The study will help establish if protection actually lasts longer than one year, thereby easing pressure on a limited global stockpile of yellow fever vaccine. In terms of technical support, several experts from the CDC and USAID are working with the Congolese Ministry of health, INRB for data management, quality assurance and daily updates.

The U.S government, through its experts, regularly participates in meetings and contributes to the identification of training needs and development programs. Many of the platforms developed to implement a successful mass polio vaccination campaign have been utilized to support the current yellow fever campaign.

USAID has been funding Emerging Pandemic Threat (EPT) activities in the DRC since 2010, including training health workers to prevent, detect, and respond to epidemic threats and building lab capacity, and has an EPT budget of $17 million for Fiscal Year 2015-2017.

The U.S government, which is also the third largest donor to GAVI -the Alliance vaccine-, supports the introduction of new vaccines through the routine system, while also providing support to the global stockpile of a few essential vaccines, including yellow fever, which can be deployed for targeted campaigns. Gavi provides over $10 million for yellow fever vaccine and operational costs to support the current vaccination campaign.

The U.S. is proud to work with its partner the Democratic Republic of Congo to help protect the Congolese people from a deadly threat – yellow fever.