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DRC Ebola Outbreak Response Sits On ‘Epidemiological Knife-Edge’ With Spread Into Urban Area, WHO Official Says; Experts Launch Vaccinations, Weigh Experimental Treatment Use

Associated Press: Ebola response on ‘knife’s edge’ as timing key, WHO says
“The World Health Organization is accelerating its efforts with nine countries neighboring Congo to try to prevent the current Ebola outbreak from spreading beyond the border, WHO’s director for Africa said Wednesday, as a colleague warned that the next few weeks will determine whether the virus can be kept under control…” (Keaten/Mwanamilongo, 5/23).

Devex: Ebola outbreak in DRC on ‘epidemiological knife-edge,’ says WHO official
“…Dr. Peter Salama, deputy director general of emergency preparedness and response, told Devex on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly that confirmation last week that the virus had reached Mbandaka — a city of about one million people on the Congo River, which leads to the capital Kinshasa — meant the situation was now ‘on an epidemiological knife-edge’…” (5/22).

STAT: Excitement over use of Ebola vaccine in outbreak tempered by real-world challenges
“The start of a vaccination program this week in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a first in an Ebola outbreak, was a cause for a mini celebration in research and outbreak response circles. But there are challenges ahead in the real-world use of the vaccine, warned the head of the global health organization that is funding the vaccination effort…” (Branswell, 5/23).

VOA News: DRC Prepares for Mass Ebola Vaccinations
“Preparations are under way for a mass Ebola vaccination campaign in the Democratic Republic of Congo as the Ministry of Health and international aid agencies hold a second day of inoculations in northwestern Equateur Province…” (Schlein, 5/22).

Wall Street Journal: Experimental Ebola Treatment May Be Deployed to Congo
“An experimental treatment for Ebola currently in testing may be deployed to Democratic Republic of Congo to help combat a growing outbreak of the virus, a top U.S. government official said Tuesday. Congo’s minister of health has requested the treatment for use in a clinical trial, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during The Wall Street Journal Health Forum in Washington, D.C…” (McKay, 5/22).

Washington Post: A new Ebola vaccine could help stop an epidemic — but faces enormous obstacles in crucial test
“…[E]normous challenges lie ahead as officials and others race against the virus to identify people in the high-risk groups being targeted for vaccination: front-line and medical workers, persons who had contact with confirmed cases and then contacts of those contacts. The goal is to form a buffer of immune individuals to rapidly prevent the disease from spreading. The first batch of vaccines — one-dose shots — is enough to vaccinate 50 ‘rings’ of 150 people, officials said. … As of Tuesday, according to WHO, 58 confirmed, probable and suspect cases had been reported, with 27 deaths…” (Sun, 5/22).

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