Human rights activists push govt to say no to J&J Ebola vaccine trials

Thursday October 31 2019

An ebola awareness banner pictured at the

An ebola awareness banner pictured at the Rwanda -DRC border.Rwanda has not suffered a single ebola case, but has been alert since its neighbours - DRC and Uganda - have reported numerous ebola cases previously. PHOTO | Cyril Ndegeya 

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Human rights activistis are asking the government not to allow the trial of the Johnson & Johnson Ebola vaccine even as Rwanda continues negotiations with the American pharmaceutical company.

The activists say they see no reason to put citizens at risk with Ebola vaccine trials, yet there is already one that is effective.

“We are aware that talks have been underway for months between Rwanda and J&J to carry out vaccine trials but this should stop; instead, we should find ways to stock more of the Merck vaccine that has been licensed,” said Emanuel Safari, a human rights activist and executive Secretary of Cladho, the umbrella association of human rights organisations in Rwanda.

“There is a more reliable, tested and effective vaccine, there should be no more vaccine trials which might have dangerous outcomes on citizens.”

The European Medicines Agency in partnership with the World Health Organization last week recommended conditional marketing authorisation for Merck’s rVSV-ZEBOV-GP vaccine, which is said to be effective in protecting people from the Ebola virus.

But Dr Jose Nyamusore, division manager of epidemic surveillance and response at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, said the trials are a way to find alternatives and offer Rwandans quality healthcare.


“We shall continue negotiations with vaccine manufacturing companies so that we have a variety of choices when it comes to Ebola vaccine. Having one that is approved is good news to us and the world, but it is not enough for all countries that need it,” he said.