“The Licensing and Rollout” of Ebola Vaccine Was Accelerated

(p. 4) To combat Ebola in Congo, one of the world’s poorest nations, health workers are taking a multifaceted approach.

They have worked to win over communities that were sometimes uncooperative — even hostile.

They have drawn on technological innovations, notably a transparent enclosure known as the cube that allows medical workers to reach in and treat patients suffering from the contagious disease through plastic sleeves.

And they have used vaccines, developed relatively recently, which have made it possible to limit the spread of the epidemic.

. . .

The “cube” was . . . a big trust builder.

With transparent walls and integrated plastic sleeves and gloves, the air-conditioned chambers allowed medical teams to tend to Ebola patients without having to put on cumbersome protective gear. The cubes also allowed patients and their family members to see each other without risk of infection.

People were afraid of the treatment centers, where so many had died. But the cubes won trust for the health care workers, said Augustin Augier, chief executive of the Alliance for International Medical Action, the nonprofit aid group that developed the chambers.

“We asked the community to come and visit so they could see what was actually happening,” Mr. Augier said.

At least 500 patients were fully treated in the cubes, which could be set up in 90 minutes and reused up to 10 times, Mr. Augier, said.

But the key factor in curbing the spread of Ebola was the introduction of powerful vaccines and lifesaving antiviral drugs.

In early November 2018, the W.H.O. accelerated the licensing and rollout of the injectable Ebola vaccine Ervebo, made by the American pharmaceutical company Merck. Preliminary study results showed a 97.5 percent efficacy rate, prompting Congo, along with Burundi, Ghana and Zambia, to license the vaccine for wider distribution.

Nearly 300,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Congo, said Dr. Moeti of the W.H.O.

For the full story, see:

Abdi Latif Dahir. “Congo, Fresh From 2-Year Ebola Battle, Eyes New Virus.” The New York Times, First Section (Sunday, April 12, 2020): 4.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 11, 2020, and has the title “Congo Was Close to Defeating Ebola. Then One More Case Emerged.”)

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