In DepthInfectious Diseases

Ebola outbreak continues despite powerful vaccine

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Science  19 Apr 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6437, pp. 223
DOI: 10.1126/science.364.6437.223

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New data show that an experimental Ebola vaccine is "highly effective" and appears to have helped contain a long-lasting outbreak of the deadly disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but the conflict-ridden region has kept vaccine teams from reaching many people who need it. The World Health Organization (WHO) revealed last week that what it called the "vaccine efficacy" is 97.5% in people who either directly or indirectly came in contact with one of the 1200-plus cases of the disease. But nearly 20% of these contacts either could not be reached or refused the vaccine. WHO also for the second time asked an expert committee to decide whether the outbreak, which began in August 2018, should be declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. But the committee again said no, WHO did not need to ring the loudest alarm bell it had, largely because the virus had yet to spread to neighboring countries. WHO's director-general took the committee's advice, but urged the international community to provide more financial support, noting full funding of the response through July would require $104 million more than is now on hand.