US scientists have developed a new potentially inhalable vaccine against Ebola that could help lead to effective treatment. The aerosol vaccine is the subject of a study headed by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A series of tests run on rhesus monkeys proved the vaccine to be effective despite previous failed attempt at vaccines.
However, the aerosol vaccine’s success on rhesus monkeys is not necessarily indicative of its effectiveness in humans, as previously developed medications failed to prevent the disease. More>>
The Ebola epidemic, which has claimed 10,000 lives in West Africa, has served as a point of analysis of current public health and disease control systems: namely, their lack of presence. This has served to highlight the need for increased preparedness and protocol in the case of future epidemics which have the potential to be even more lethal. Ebola, Gates notes, requires physical contact for transmission as well as active symptoms. Drawing comparisons to the Spanish flu which killed approximately 30 million people in 1918, diseases that are either airborne or are contagious before the onset of symptoms are a great threat to our increasingly mobile society and require adequate systems in place to control an outbreak in the future. While conversations about Ebola have centered primarily on whether the WHO or the CDC responded effectively do not highlight the fact that there are very rudimentary and ill structured systems to address a crisis of this size. The Ebola crisis made clear that there is little protocol for essential functions of disease control in vulnerable regions such as volunteer deployment, transportation of patients, diagnostic procedures, and data collection.
Gates calls for increasing infrastructural capacity and encouraging the development of global warning symptoms for epidemics. Local health systems need to be adequately prepared and strengthened in order for these measures to be effective. In addition, there must be a more efficient way to have medical professionals and experts on call, standard deployment measures, organized data collection measures, and emergency resources ready and accessible. More>>
Obama announced the removal of almost all troops from the fight against Ebola in West Africa, while encouraged continued vigilance of the recent epidemic. In order to continue to mitigate the outbreak, civilian workers of government agencies, volunteers, and approximately 100 military personnel will remain on duty. The president thanked the service men and women for their efforts to contain the outbreak, and that the US will continue to work towards eradication of Ebola. He also recognized the dedication of volunteers who have continued invaluable work in West Africa despite threats to health and personal safety.
Evidence suggests that the spread of Ebola in West Africa –especially Liberia—has been slowing considerably. The epidemic, estimated to reach 1 million deaths, has claimed about 9,000. Recent reporting states there have been only a about a dozen in the past three weeks. More>>