Ebola Vaccine Arrives In DR Congo Amid Outbreak

In this handout photograph released by UNICEF on May 13, 2018, health workers wear protective equipment as they prepare to attend to suspected Ebola patients at Bikoro Hospital – the epicentre of the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo PHOTO: MARK NAFTALIN / UNICEF / AFP

 

Thousands of doses of Ebola vaccine arrived Wednesday in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is facing an outbreak of the deadly virus, the health ministry said.

Congolese authorities declared the outbreak in the northwest region near Congo-Brazzaville on May 8, and three have died from the disease, according to an official toll.

The number of reported cases is 42, including two confirmed, according to a World Health Organization tally.

“Five thousand four hundred doses of vaccine arrived from Geneva this morning,” said health ministry spokeswoman Jessica Ilunga. They would be kept in Kinshasa until a refrigerated transportation chain could be guaranteed.

The WHO said the risk of the disease spreading was “high” and announced it was preparing for the “worst case scenario”.

Chief executive Doctor Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus visited the affected Bikoro area last weekend, saying he hoped for a “better way out” of the latest outbreak in DRC.

Oxfam announced Wednesday that it has made available an initial $68,000 (57,000 euros) to fight the spread of the disease.

Ebola is one of the world’s most notorious diseases, being both highly infectious and extremely lethal.

The worst-ever Ebola outbreak started in December 2013 in southern Guinea before spreading to neighbouring West African countries Liberia and Sierra Leone, killing more than 11,300 people out of nearly 29,000 registered cases.

AFP

Senate Passes Public Health Bill

Senator David Mark, Senate President.The Senate in Nigeria has passed a bill to establish a public health system to guarantee quarantine, isolation and emergency health procedures.

The decision of Senate to pass the bill into law on Tuesday maybe connected with the onslaught of the Ebola Virus Disease in some West African countries, but experts say it has been brought under control in Nigeria.

It is a bill that seeks the development of a comprehensive plan to provide for a co-ordinated and appropriate response in the event of public health emergency.

It will also enhance the early detection of a health emergency and allow the immediate investigation of such emergency by gaining access to individual’s health information under specified circumstances.

The act also seeks to grant federal and state officials the authority to use an appropriate property as necessary for the case, treatment, vaccination and housing of patients and to destroy contaminated facilities or materials.

Speaking at the Tuesday plenary, the deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said that it was necessary to enact laws to deal challenges thrown up by the Ebola Virus Disease that claimed seven lives in Nigeria between July and August.

Vaccine Gives Monkeys Ebola Immunity

EbolaVaccinated monkeys have developed “long-term” immunity to the Ebola virus, raising a prospect of successful human trials, say scientists.

The experiments by the US National Institutes of Health showed immunity could last at least 10 months.

Human trials of the vaccine started this week in the US and will extend to the UK and Africa.

The World Health Organization says more than 2,000 people have now died in the outbreak in West Africa.

Several experimental treatments are now being considered to help contain the spread of Ebola. This includes a vaccine being developed by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline.

It uses a genetically modified chimp virus containing components of two species of Ebola – Zaire, which is currently circulating in West Africa, and the common Sudan species.

The viral vaccine does not replicate inside the body, but it is hoped the immune system will react to the Ebola component of the vaccine and develop immunity.

Poor durability

Animal research, on which the decision to begin human trials was based, has now been published in the journal Nature Medicine.

It shows four crab-eating macaques all survived what would have been a fatal dose of Ebola virus five weeks later.

However, only half survived an infection 10 months after immunisation.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the BBC: “The good part of this vaccine is that at five weeks or earlier you get full protection.

“The sobering news is the durability isn’t great, but if you give a boost, a second shot, you make it really durable.

“We knew this worked in the monkey months ago and based on this paper we started human trials.”

For now this is the best evidence available on how successful such a vaccine would be in people.

The first patient, a 39-year-old woman, was given the vaccine last week as human trials got under way.

There will also be separate trials of the vaccine against just the Zaire Ebola species. These will take place in the US, the University of Oxford in the UK as well as in Mali and Gambia.

The WHO said safety data would be ready by November 2014 and, if the vaccine proved safe, it would be used in West Africa immediately.

Healthcare workers and other frontline staff would be prioritised for vaccination.

‘Really encouraging’

The number of doses currently available is between 400 – if a lot of vaccine is needed for immunity – and 4,000 if smaller amounts are sufficient.

As with all experimental therapies, the WHO has warned hopes of a vaccine must not detract from the proven methods of infection control which have defeated all previous outbreaks.

Prof Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham, said: “This is really encouraging data.

“The degree of protection seen with the chimpanzee adenovirus alone – which will be used in one of the human clinical trials planned for the UK, Mali and the Gambia – was still pretty impressive, especially when the animals received Ebola virus within a few weeks of vaccination.

“This is important as it would keep the dosing regimen simple and could still provide good protection in the sort of outbreak that we are seeing in Western Africa at the moment.”

WHO Says 490 Million Dollars Needed To Contain Ebola

Ebola
WHO Assistant Director General, Aylward, speaks during a press briefing on combating Ebola, at the UN headquarters in Geneva

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa could infect over 20,000 people and spread to more countries, the U.N. health agency said, warning that an international effort costing almost half a billion dollars is needed to overcome the outbreak.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced a $490 million strategic plan to contain the epidemic over the next nine months, saying it was based on a projection that the virus could spread to 10 further countries beyond the four now affected – Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

With the IMF warning of economic damage from the outbreak, Nigeria reported that a doctor indirectly linked to the Liberian-American, late Patrick Sawyer who brought the disease to the country had died of Ebola in Port Harcourt, Africa’s largest energy hub.

In Britain, drug maker, GlaxoSmithKline, said an experimental Ebola vaccine is being fast-tracked into human studies and it plans to produce up to 10,000 doses for emergency deployment if the results are good.

So far 3,069 cases have been reported in the outbreak but the WHO said the actual number could already be two to four times higher. “This is not a West African issue or an African issue. This is a global health security issue,” WHO’s Assistant Director-General, Dr Bruce Aylward, told reporters in Geneva.

With a fatality rate of 52 percent, the death toll stood at 1,552 as of August 26. That is nearly as high as the total from all recorded outbreaks since Ebola was discovered in what is now Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976.

The figures do not include 13 deaths from a separate Ebola outbreak announced at the weekend in Congo, which has been identified as a different strain of the virus.

Aylward said that tackling the epidemic would need thousands of local staff and 750 international experts. “It is a big operation. We are talking (about) well over 12,000 people operating over multiple geographies and high-risk circumstances. It is an expensive operation,” he said.

The operation marks a major raising of the response by the WHO, which had been accused by some aid agencies of reacting too slowly to the outbreak.

Medical charity, Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF), welcomed the WHO plan but said that the important thing was now to act upon it.

“Huge questions remain about who will implement the elements in the plan,” said MSF Operations Director, Brice de le Vingne. “None of the organizations in the most-affected countries … currently have the right set-up to respond on the scale necessary to make a serious impact.”

 

Ebola Virus: Abia Govt. Organises Sensitization Campaign For Civil Servants

Ebola virus Following the outbreak of Ebola Virus in Nigeria, the Abia State Government has organized a one-day sensitization and enlightenment campaign on Ebola disease for all the civil servants in the state.

This was to create more awareness on precautionary measures as well as attitudinal change towards handling things that involve mucus membranes of the body.

The Director, Public Health and Disease Control, State Ministry Of Health, Franklin Orji, disclosed that the campaign would ensure that Abia civil servants are equipped with adequate and genuine information concerning the diseases. It would also give information about how to check its spread from one person to another.

Some of the civil servants, after the seminar, disclosed that they had learnt a lot concerning the spread, symptoms and preventive measures of the Ebola Virus and promised to put it to work.

Some of them also shared how they intend to put the recommendations to work in their offices and homes.

In the mean time, prevention and careful precautionary measures might be the most effective and needed tools to minimize the spread of Ebola Disease.

The event was a collaborative effort by the State Government and stakeholders in the health sector.