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Ebola reappears in Africa, WHO urgently allocates vaccines

Ebola reappears in Africa, WHO urgently allocates vaccines

by YCPress

After five years, Ebola has come back.

According to AFP on February 14, Ebola has occurred again in southeastern Guinea recently. The country’s health department has confirmed seven cases of infection, including three deaths. This is about five years after the last Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

WHO said it would quickly travel to Guinea for assistance and deliver the vaccine to Conakry, the capital of Guinea, as soon as possible.

Zakoba Keita, director of Guinea’s National Health Security Agency, told the media on the 14th local time that the country is in the middle of an Ebola “epidemic”. The seven confirmed cases reported include four men and three women.

A funeral accelerates the spread of the virus

Keita said that as far as the current situation is, the first confirmed case of the Ebola epidemic in Guinea is a nurse who died after contracting the virus at the end of January this year and was buried on February 1.

In the following days, many people who attended her funeral developed symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and fever.

On the 14th, a laboratory in Conakry, the capital, tested the virus samples and confirmed that the patient was infected with Ebola virus.

Keita said that people diagnosed with Ebola virus have been quarantined, investigators are tracking all those who have attended the funeral (dead nurses), and experts hope to find out the source of the Ebola epidemic.

Guinea’s health minister Remy Rama told the media that he was “concerned” about the current situation, but Guinea already has experience in dealing with the Ebola epidemic, and the emergence of an Ebola vaccine helps to curb the spread of the virus.

Why does the reappearance of Ebola in Guinea cause concern?

The re-emergence of Ebola cases in Guinea is worrying because the existing cases are concentrated in the Nzerekore region in southeastern Guinea.

In December 2013, it was from this region that the Ebola outbreak quickly spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Mali and the United States.

From the outbreak in West Africa in 2013 to the WHO officially declared the end of the epidemic in 2016, Ebola has claimed more than 11,300 lives.

Ebola has never really left Africa.

In addition to Guinea, Ebola cases are currently present in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in central Africa.

According to Reuters, the health department of the Democratic Republic of the Congo announced on the 14th that new cases of Ebola infection had been found in North Kivu Province in the eastern part of the country, the fourth confirmed case of Ebola reported in the country since February.

The authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have not yet determined whether the current sporadic cases will constitute a new Ebola epidemic, and serum samples of infected people are being tested to determine whether the virus strain is related to the previous outbreak.

It was only on November 18 last year that the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo announced the end of the country’s 11th Ebola epidemic.

△ Congo under Ebola (Image source: Associated Press)

Ebola virus was first discovered near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1976, and since then, Ebola outbreaks have appeared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from time to time.

Following the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the tenth round of Ebola outbreak occurred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from August 2018 to June 2020, killing more than 2,000 people.

The origin of Ebola virus is still a mystery. It is mainly transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of infected people or animals.

Once infected, people will have fever, vomiting, bleeding, diarrhea and other symptoms, which will endanger lives in serious cases.

500,000 doses of global vaccine emergency reserve

△The World Health Organization Ebola vaccination team works in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Image source: WHO official website)

In November 2019, Ervebo, an Ebola vaccine produced by Mercadon, was licensed to be listed in the European Union, becoming the world’s first Ebola vaccine officially approved for market.

Another experimental Ebola vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson was also tested in provinces with severe epidemics in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the same year.

The World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and other organizations jointly announced on January 11 this year that they would establish a global Ebola vaccine stockpile.

Once the epidemic breaks out again in the future, vaccines can be quickly mobilized and immunized for high-risk groups, thus curbing the spread of the virus.

The first batch of vaccines entered the stock totaled 6,890, and it is expected to complete the stockpile of 500,000 in two to three years.