Sunday August 25, 2019

Former Ebola Virus US Patients Mark 5 Years Since Recovery While Congo Still Fighting with Current Outbreak

Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were among the four Americans who were treated and recovered at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital in 2014

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FILE - An ambulance carrying Amber Joy Vinson, the second health care worker to be diagnosed with Ebola in Texas, arrives at Emory University Hospital, in Atlanta, Oct. 15, 2014. VOA

As a new Ebola outbreak rages in Congo, two of the first Ebola virus patients to be successfully treated in the United States during the deadliest recorded outbreak five years ago are reuniting with their doctors. Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were among the four Americans who were treated and recovered at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital in 2014.

They plan to join Emory medical staff for a media briefing on Friday, the fifth anniversary of Brantly’s arrival. He was the first to come to Emory after being infected while working in Liberia. A third former patient, Dr. Ian Crozier, had planned to join them but is back in Congo, helping to fight the current outbreak.

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The outbreak in Congo is the second deadliest recorded and has already killed more than 1,800 people, nearly a third of them children. The 2014-16 outbreak in West Africa killed more than 11,300 people. (VOA)

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Researchers in Uganda Launch Ebola Vaccine Trial for Two Years

The new vaccine is manufactured by U.S.-based Janssen and Janssen company

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FILE - A Ugandan health worker prepares to administer the Ebola vaccine to a man in Kirembo village, near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo in Kasese district, Uganda, June 16, 2019. VOA

Eight hundred health workers involved in the fight against the Ebola virus are receiving doses of a two-part vaccine. Researchers who launched a trial this week for a new Ebola vaccine say the new vaccine trial will take two years to complete.

Dr. Juliet Mwanga, director of the Mbarara Research Center, said the vaccine combines antigen — a substance that induces an immune response in the body — from the Ebola virus, a common adenovirus, and the vaccinia Ankara vaccine. The new vaccine is manufactured by U.S.-based Janssen and Janssen company.

“This J and J vaccine aims at prevention — primary prevention before you have contact at all,” said Mwanga. “And the other difference, as I said, it has two parts. So, you’re given the first dose, and 56 days later, you get another dose, which boosts your immunity. So, hopefully it works for a longer time.”

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Deo Bakulu has been washing his hands every chance he gets since Ebola reached eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s main city of Goma. VOA

Currently, Uganda is using an Ebola vaccine by the Merck pharmaceutical company, but Mwanga said they need to try out new vaccines, too. Uganda’s move is motivated by its proximity to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where more than 1,800 people have died from an Ebola outbreak that began a year ago.

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Dr. Kimton Opio, the coordinator of the trial, said the vaccine is being tested on 800 health care workers and front-line support workers who meet a few basic requirements. “Someone has to be 18 years and over,” he said. ” Then, of course, they have to be able to sign the  [consent] form. Then they must not have been vaccinated with Ebola before, or they must have not suffered from Ebola before.”

The researchers are hopeful the vaccine, if effective, will help Uganda and neighboring countries that have endured Ebola outbreaks. Uganda has seen no new cases of Ebola in recent weeks. But, health officials have been on high alert since June, when two adults and a five-year-old boy who had crossed into Uganda from the DRC died of the virus. (VOA)