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New Ebola vaccine may be up to 100% effective: WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed confidence that a prototype vaccine for Ebola called rVSV-ZEBOV may be 100% effective in protecting against the deadly virus.

The vaccine was initially developed in Canada by public health authorities before being taken over by pharmaceutical giant Merck.

Key Facts
  • Earlier in a major experimental human clinical trial of this vaccine conducted on nearly 6,000 people in Guinea in 2015 was found to successfully.
  • It was observed that no one from the 6,000 people contracted again to the lethal disease. The test results of the trial were released in The Lancet magazine.
  • This new vaccine has not yet been approved by any regulatory authority. But it is said that the vaccine could become available in 2018 under a fast-track approval process.
  • However, this new vaccine has some flaws as it appears to work against only one of the two most common strains of the Ebola virus.
  • Thus, it may not give long-lasting protection and some of patients who were given this vaccine have reported side effects like joint pain and headaches.

About Ebola virus

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. It was first identified in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo in a village near the Ebola River, from which it takes its name. It is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. Fruit bats are natural host of this virus. It spreads through contact with body fluids of inflected persons such as blood, urine and saliva. Symptoms faced by people who have contracted the Ebola virus include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage. In 2014, Ebola virus had erupted periodically mainly across west and east Africa mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. It was the deadly outbreak of the virus in the history that had killed 11,000 people.

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WHO declares Guinea Ebola free

World Health Organization (WHO), a UN health agency has declared Guinea Ebola-free after no new cases were reported. Now the country enters into 90-day period of heightened surveillance of WHO.

In Guinea, the deadly disease had killed more than 2,500 people and had completely shattered country’s economy and country’s health and education sectors.

Criteria for declaring a nation Ebola-free

WHO can declare a country Ebola free after no new cases are reported from human-to-human transmission over two incubation periods of virus i.e. 21 days. Earlier, WHO had declared Liberia Ebola-free in September 2015 and was followed by Sierra Leone in November 2015.

Ebola outbreak

Guinea was birthplace of deadliest Ebola outbreak in history and was initially centred on country’s remote south-eastern region of Nzerekore in 2013. Later it had spread to its neighbouring countries Liberia and Sierra Leone and also seven other countries. After it began in 2013 it has killed more than 11,300 people in these three worst hit western African nations. Liberia with 4809 deaths was worst hit among these three western African nations in this deadly outbreak.

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WHO declares Liberia Ebola-free

World Health Organization (WHO), a U.N. health agency has declared Liberia Ebola-free.

WHO has hailed Liberia’s Ebola eradication efforts as an enormous development in the long crisis and monumental achievement as the virus has killed more than 4,716 people in the country alone.

Now, Liberia’s neighbous Guinea and Sierra Leone are only two countries fighting to stop Ebola outbreak since it began in December 2013.

Criteria for declaring a nation Ebola-free

WHO can declare a country Ebola free, if no new cases are reported over two incubation periods of virus i.e. 21 days.

In case of Liberia, no new cases of Ebola were reported in past 42 days i.e. twice the number of days the virus requires to incubate. The last confirmed death in Liberia was reported on 27 March 2015.

Impact of Ebola

The current outbreak is the deadliest in history. It was initially centred on Guinea’s remote south-eastern region of Nzerekore in early 2014 and later had spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Liberia was worst hit among the western African nations in this outbreak.

As per WHO, the number of deaths from the Ebola epidemic till date exceeds 11,000. In Sierra Leone 3,903 have died and 2,386 have died in Guinea.

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