Central African countries to fight Ebola together

Grant Boone
October 23, 2019

More than 11,300 people have lost their lives due to this epidemic in West Africa from 2013 to 2016.

In the first Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) update in about a month, I take a look at some of the happenings at the meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee for Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 18 October 2019. Located in central sub-Saharan Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is more conveniently referred to as the DR Congo or the DRC for short, is home to one of the greatest endowments of natural resources in relative comparison to other African nations, including vast forestry reserves that have largely gone untapped, about one-half of Africa's potential hydroelectric power sources thanks to the Congo River, and vast biodiversity that could readily be transformed into valuable government-protected wildlife reserves. There are now no licensed treatments for Ebola, but scientists announced in August that they were a step closer to being able to treat Ebola after two experimental drugs showed survival rates of as much as 90% in a clinical trial in Congo. "The CHMP's recommendation is the result of many years of collaborative global efforts to find and develop new medicines and vaccines against Ebola".

Another downside about the DRC is that it's now experiencing a widespread outbreak of the Ebola virus disease, which dates back all the way to August 2018.

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"This is an important step towards relieving the burden of this deadly disease", said Guido Rasi, the EMA's executive director, adding: "Public health authorities in countries affected by Ebola need safe and efficacious medicines to be able to respond effectively to outbreaks and save lives". The Democratic Republic of the Congo is now grappling with the world's second largest Ebola epidemic on record, with more than 2000 lives lost and 3000 confirmed infections since the outbreak was declared on 1 August 2018 according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

EMA has recommended a conditional marketing authorization for the vaccine. The drug is termed as rVSV-ZOBOV-GP vaccine.

Ervebo is a recombinant, replication-competent Ebola vaccine, originally developed by NewLink Genetics and licensed to Merck in 2014, that has been given to hundreds of thousands of people in the DRC outbreak on a compassionate-use basis to try to limit the transmission of the disease. But the decrease in infections is not a reason to relax efforts to contain the virus, according to World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

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