The vaccine being developed by GlaxoKlineSmith in conjunction with the NIH this week posted positive results in the New England Journal of Medicine. An increase in Ebola fighting anti-bodies was observed after treatment. Larger trials will begin in Liberia in January. Here is a round-up of the news:
- The Head of an Ebola Treatment Unit in Liberia has urged for more education and awareness regarding the lifespan of Ebola in semen. He claims that many Ebola survivors are practicing unsafe sex which places other individuals at risk. It is currently advised that unprotected sex should be avoided for three months to ensure the Ebola virus is no longer present in reproductive fluids.
- The Daily Mail UK reports that two children who had been vacationing in Africa are currently being tested for Ebola in a hospital in Newcastle. Officials say that it is unlikely that either of the children has the virus but every precaution must be taken.
- The Standard Times Press of Sierra Leone reports that President Koroma on Sunday cut the tape to open a US $300 000 Ebola Treatment Center in Makeni. The Center was funded by Addax Bioenergy as part of their Makeni Project development which aims to modernize the sugar cane industry in a sustainable way to help fuel green energy initiatives.
- Germany has received a new specialized jet to transport Ebola patients. The Airbus A340-300 is equipped with full isolation equipment and all other necessary safeguards. A press release called it “the world’s only evacuation facility…” Germany has contributed more than €100million to fighting the virus.
- After Morocco decided not to host the African Cup of Nations, Equatorial Guinea, who co-hosted the event in 2012, has stepped in. The nation’s officials have asked for calm surrounding Ebola concerns and said that every precaution will be taken to ensure health and safety.
While facilities are struggling to cope with the number of affected individuals in West Africa, the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy has contributed by sending Argus, a hospital ship, to help manage the virus. The ship has one hundred beds aboard and will aim lighten the load on treatment facilities in Sierra Leone as well as deliver crucial supplies. Here is a summary of the day’s stories:
- The American Nurse, Kaci Hickox, who questioned the implication on human rights of a mandatory isolation period in New Jersey, and was later let go under conditions of the policy, threatened to go to court if the State of Maine attempted to do the same. It was noted by an official that health care workers who fight the disease in other countries, should be willing to take necessary steps to prevent spreading the virus. Hickox defied all arguments she claims are not founded in science and took a bike ride. Police were unable to detain her because there wasn’t a valid court order. Her 21-day incubation period is scheduled to end on the 10th of November 2014.
- Over one hundred thousand people have signed a petition requesting the Spanish Health Minister to resign. The demand comes after the poor handling of Maria Romero’s Ebola infection which led to a court order for her dog, Excalibur, to be euthanized. The Nurse, upon making a full recovery, said she was disappointed with the decision but would get a new puppy. All contacts have been cleared of the virus.
- The Czech Republic is currently on the hunt for a group of people who threatened to spread Ebola if they are not paid the equivalent of €1 million in Bitcoin (±3700BTC). The first payment was meant to be made on Monday. The Czech government has said that while the individuals cover their tracks and are difficult to find, the citizens have nothing to worry about. The perpetrators could face up to 12 years in prison if caught and convicted.
At the Congressional Hearing in the United States yesterday commitment from the relevant stakeholders was reaffirmed in the fight against Ebola. Yesterday as well, at the United Nations Headquarters, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to the International Community to raise at least US $1 billion to reduce the rate of transmission by December 1st, 2014. Here is a update on some of the latest developing stories regarding Ebola:
- Senegal has officially been cleared of Ebola, the Associated Press reports. Senegal had an imported case from a man who entered the country on the 29th of August 2014. The Government responded by monitoring all contacts, isolating the man and launching public awareness campaigns. Today, given that enough time for potential incubation periods have passed, the UN Health Agency was able to declare the outbreak over. It was called “a good example” in a statement by the World Health Organization.
- Nina Pham, who arrived at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda today, appeared in a Youtube clip where she appeared to be in good spirits despite her diagnosis. The rationale behind the move was to give her state of the art care and also lighten the load on Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital where many staff are now being actively monitored. A worker from the same hospital is currently in isolation aboard a Carnival Cruise Ship near Belize. The worker is 19 days away from her last exposure and did not work directly with the index patient but may have handled blood samples. At the time she left for the cruise the CDC had not yet switched from self-monitoring to active monitoring protocols.
- On Thursday, 16 October 2014, four people were tested for Ebola in Spain and Tenerife. All preliminary results are now in and all are negative. This includes a person who traveled in the same ambulance as Teresa Romero, the man who presented with fever on an Air France flight from Nigeria via Paris to Madrid (he has Malaria), a missionary who had returned from Liberia and the last in Tenerife, a Red Cross nurse who was in Sierra Leone. Teresa Romero remains the only person currently known to have Ebola within Spanish borders.
- England will begin screening at two more airports, Manchester and Birmingham, and France says it will begin screening visitors arriving on a once a week flight from Guinea.
Ebola has once again come to the forefront of the news cycle. President Obama has cancelled trips to organize a meeting with Officials to discuss the Ebola strategy. Here is a round-up of the day’s news:
The World Health Organization released an official situation report update today.
- A second US health care worker that was infected with Ebola was on a plane the day before her diagnosis:
- Passengers are advised that Frontier Airways flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on Monday 13 October 2014 was affected and all passengers should contact the CDC.
- The crew said that the woman did not display any symptoms while on the flight, but Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDC confirmed that she had a fever of 99.5 Fahrenheit or 37.5 Celsius.
- The health care worker has been named as Amber Vinson, according to Reuters.
- The Airline said she flew to Cleveland on Frontier Airlines flight 1142 on October 10 2014.
- Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has received scathing criticisms over the last few days, but denies that there is any institutional problem, according to CNN.
- Amber was vigilant and was isolated within 90 minutes after reporting a fever.
- The CDC said that they would trace all 132 passengers that were on board.
- Frieden also said that she was not allowed to travel on a commercial plane due to the nature of her work. But it later emerged that she had phoned the CDC to confirm and was given the all clear as her fever was considered ‘low grade’.
- Meanwhile the condition of the first health care worker infected, who received a blood plasma transfusion from Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly, has been listed as good. The antibodies transferred are believed to help fight the Ebola Virus.
- A woman who displayed signs of Ebola while giving birth in Belgium yesterday has tested negative for the virus. The woman was rushed from the hospital where she gave birth to Antwerp University Hospital based on its ability to better deal with a potential Ebola case. She and the baby were isolated separately and have both tested negative. She had recently been in Sierra Leone.
- Ebola panic in the United Kingdom has led to negative social consequences. The Huffington Post UK reports that a student from Sierra Leone spent weeks looking for accommodation after being refused twice over Ebola fears. In a separate story from The Daily Mail it is claimed that workers at the BBC are afraid of guests who come from affected countries. Anyone who displays Ebola-like symptoms will not be allowed in the building, the publication reports. Across the pond in the United States, two students from Nigeria were rejected from Navarro College in Texas. Nigeria has not reported a single case since the 8th of September 2014, Texas reported a new case today.
Here is a summary of the day’s top stories regarding Ebola:
- The Head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Francis Collins, claims that if it had not been for budget cuts, there would already be a vaccine for Ebola. He claims that they have been researching a vaccine since 2002. The budget in 2004 was around US $28 billion and US $29.3 billion in 2013. This is an increase in pure numbers but a decrease once inflation has been factored in. A bill has been introduced to increase funding but is currently stagnant.
- The Dallas Nurse who has been diagnosed with Ebola after treating the index patient Thomas Duncan has been unable to identify where her breach might have come from. Additionally, according to WFAA she has been named by family members as 26-year old, former Texas Christian University student, Nina Pham. She apparently grew up in Fort Worth, Texas. The CDC is now monitoring all health care workers carefully to ensure that all protocols are properly adhered to. A Press Conference was also held where Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDC, said “I feel awful…”
- A Canadian-made vaccine licensed by the US company, NewLink Genetics, will begin clinical trials tomorrow. The vaccine will be tested in a lab in Maryland, USA with results expected to be available by December 2014. If the vaccine proves successful and meets safety requirements it could be administered to health care workers sometime during 2015.
- Some of the Nurses who yesterday protested demanding higher hazard pay in Liberia have arrived for work. The Nurses originally demanded US $ 700 above their monthly salary.
- The NY Post reports that a Tanzanian man with arrest warrants in the United States claimed he was feverish when airport officials wanted to arrest him at JFK Airport. He was rushed to a hospital in a hazmat suit where he spent Saturday night. It is unclear if he has tested positive for anything, or if he has been arrested since. This took place the same day that temperature monitoring was introduced at the airport.
- Dallas News reports that facts about how Ebola spreads might be inaccurate. Studies allege droplets that are small enough to float through the air can lead to Ebola infection in animals. The question is whether this applies to humans as well.
- A person in Jacksonville, US – FL is being tested for Ebola. The person had apparently come into contact with someone who was from West Africa. Officials at Baptist Medical Center say the diagnosis is unlikely but they are following all CDC protocols.
- NHS Staff in the United Kingdom are said to be panicking due to the fact that many feel they are unprepared for EVD. A few false alarms have exacerbated the situation.
- A license for German-owned airline Gambia Bird to reinstate direct flights to Sierra Leone from England was also revoked today after being valid for only a short while. The deterioration of the country was cited as the reason. Brussels Airlines is currently the only European carrier flying to Sierra Leone.
- The World Health Organization has called Ebola “the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times”. More than 4000 people have died since the beginning of the West African Ebola Outbreak. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan called for calm saying that fear of infection has spread quicker than actual infection leading to unnecessary economic challenges.