A “cautious” hope in the fight against Ebola in DRC

“Under the leadership of the government and with our partners, I believe we have really managed to reduce the virus in as small a geographical area as possible, essentially a triangle between Mambasa, Komanda, Beni, Mandima, which is a space between North Kivu and Ituri, ” – The Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, Dr. Michael Ryan

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday 10 Oct, posted a “cautious” hope in the fight against Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This optimism is explained by the confinement of the virus in some less vulnerable localities, and by the fact that big cities like Butembo, Katwa or Beni have not seen any new cases.

Since the outbreak was declared on 1 August 2018, the outbreak in DRC has become the second deadliest in history with over 3207 EVD cases, and 2144 deaths (cfr 67%).

Ebola is a tragically familiar disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo is battling the 10th outbreak since the disease was first identified in 1976.

Related: 40 Years of Ebola Virus Disease around the World

The Ebola virus kills half the people who get it, but this time is different. This time there is a are vaccines.

Two experimental vaccines has been approved fro use by the WHO in the fight against Ebola in DRC. On Monday May 27, 2019, a recombinant Ebola vaccine called rVSV-ZEBOV donated by Merck, was deployed in a strategy called ring vaccination, to put the brakes on in-progress outbreaks.

A Second Ebola vaccine is to be used in DRCongo from November, the new vaccine from Johnson & Johnson will be used to complement the first vaccine, which has been administered to more than 225,000 people. It requires two injections eight weeks apart, unlike the Merck vaccine, which requires a single shot.

Vaccination has been key to controlling this outbreak. This is the first time an experimental vaccine has ever been deployed to fight a disease like Ebola during an outbreak.

But this outbreak is different for another reason, too: there is a potential ‘cure’.

Amid unrelenting chaos and violence, scientists and doctors in the DRC had been running a clinical trial of new drugs to try to combat the outbreak. On Monday, 12 Aug, the scientists halted the clinical trial early when two antibody drugs were found to be more effective, allowing up to 94 percent of those treated to recover. the two experimental treatments are now being offered to all patients in the DRC.

Until now, the medical community had no reliable way to treat people infected with Ebola. As of 4 October, 1000 people have survived EVD in this outbreak.

The current outbreak has been devastating enough to be declared PHEIC but now there are signs of progress in the battle to stop the outbreak. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the number of reported new infections is declining. Only 14 people were confirmed in the first week of October — making it the lowest number in a year. At the peak of the Ebola epidemic, in April, the number of new infections was 126 per week.

The progress made so far brings hope that an end is near for the second worst Ebola outbreak in history, but it is not over until it is over, the WHO and partners promises to be vigilant until the end

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