WHO Wraps Up Meeting Pledging To Advance R&D, Preparedness For Next Disease Outbreak

Agence France-Presse: WHO works on plan to tackle disease outbreaks after Ebola fiasco
“The World Health Organization, reeling under stinging criticism for its late response to the worst ever Ebola outbreak, on Tuesday said it was creating a blueprint to handle future disease outbreaks. A two-day meeting of the U.N. agency was aimed at creating better research and diagnostic facilities, improving data sharing between countries, and creating biobanks, said Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO assistant director for health systems and innovation…” (Chanda, 5/12).

CIDRAP News: Experts weigh challenges, options for Ebola vaccine clearance
“With Ebola cases in West Africa again declining sharply, researchers are looking closely at alternatives for getting a vaccine licensed quickly, without traditional efficacy data, and studying how stepped-up strategies for vaccines and other medical tools might be used for future disease epidemics…” (Schnirring, 5/12).

Reuters: As Ebola disappears, no useful data seen from vaccine trials: WHO
“…[T]wo experimental Ebola vaccines — developed by GlaxoSmithKline and jointly by Merck and NewLink Genetics — being tested on volunteers may not yield sufficient data on efficacy as case numbers fall, Kieny said. ‘It is not clear whether it will be possible to have even a hint of efficacy from these two vaccines,’ she said, noting that they already had been proven safe…” (Nebehay, 5/12).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. health agency draws lessons from Ebola to prepare roadmap for future epidemics
“…Kieny went on to say the Geneva meeting aimed ‘to come up with a new framework for R&D for diseases with epidemic potential and other health threats, so that next time we can be better prepared, faster, and more effective.’ WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan, in the meeting’s opening remarks on Monday, said that the Ebola R&D effort has mobilized people, institutions, and resources in ways never before seen in an ‘otherwise horrific human calamity’ and noted that the world was ‘likely very close to having a vaccine that can protect against Ebola’…” (5/12).

VOA News: WHO to Accelerate R&D for Ebola, Other Diseases
“…[Kieny] says participants are working on a new framework to speed up research and development for diseases that could become epidemics and other health threats. This way, she says, the next time the world is faced with an epidemic, it can respond more quickly and effectively…” (Schlein, 5/12).

Wall Street Journal: Disputes Emerge on African Ebola Drug Trials
“…At issue is the way doctors from Oxford, Doctors Without Borders, and other European groups are evaluating experimental Ebola drugs without using a comparison group of patients given a placebo — just as Doctors Without borders has done with vaccines. Randomly assigning patients to drugs or a placebo is the gold standard for testing whether drugs work and aren’t causing harm…” (Burton, 5/12).

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