Efforts To Control DRC Ebola Outbreak Show Signs Of Progress, But Challenges Remain As Cases Continue To Grow

Associated Press/Washington Post: AP Explains: Why Congo’s Ebola outbreak still going strong
“The Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo, the second deadliest in history, marks six months on Friday and is moving toward the major border city of Goma, a development that would greatly complicate any hope of stopping the virus’ spread in the unstable region. This may be the most challenging Ebola outbreak ever. Health workers face the threat of attack from rebel groups and resistance from frightened communities. A highly mobile population produced two scares in the past week alone: The discovery of an infected, wide-ranging young trader led to vaccinations in a new, third province near the South Sudan border. And two contacts of Ebola victims slipped away and were found in the capital of neighboring Uganda — free of the virus. And yet this outbreak has seen a number of advances, including the widespread use of an experimental Ebola vaccine and a clinical trial of experimental treatments…” (Anna, 2/1).

Axios: There are tools to fight Ebola — but first people need to trust them
“Despite having more tools to combat Ebola than ever before, the disease continues to spread to new parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo — partly as a result of continued lack of trust from the public, according to several experts from Doctors without Borders (MSF). … They said the combination of the security situation, nasty disease and community distrust amounts to a ‘very frustrating’ situation. … The treatment trials have also been hampered by the security situation, Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Axios. … But, the ring vaccination appears to be helping, although no one is 100% sure since it’s not part of a randomized trial, Fauci tells Axios…” (O’Reilly, 1/31).

CIDRAP News: Over 70,000 vaccinated against Ebola as outbreak marches on
“More than 70,000 people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have now been vaccinated with VSV-EBOV, Merck’s unlicensed Ebola vaccine, according to today’s update from DRC health officials. … Though experts have called the campaign a success, the outbreak shows no signs of slowing. [Yesterday], the DRC confirmed 7 new cases, bringing the total number to 759, including 468 deaths…” (Soucheray, 1/31).

STAT: Top WHO official sees progress in grueling fight against Ebola outbreak
“Six months after the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo began, efforts to stop spread of the disease are producing signs of progress, a senior World Health Organization official told STAT on Thursday. Transmission has either been halted or significantly reduced in a number of the areas where the disease has spread, said Dr. Mike Ryan, assistant director of the WHO’s emergency preparedness and response program…” (Branswell, 2/1).

VOA News: U.S. Researchers Looking For Long Lasting Ebola Vaccine
“The World Health Organization reports that more than 700 people have been sickened with Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. And now, neighboring countries of South Sudan and Rwanda are bracing for the virus to spread. But, half a world away, U.S. researchers are hoping to develop a new, long-lasting vaccine against Ebola. VOA’s Carol Pearson has more…” (Pearson, 1/31).