WHO: Ebola/EVD Response [to 17 January 2015]

WHO: Ebola response roadmap – Situation report 14 January 2015
:: Guinea reported its lowest weekly total of new confirmed Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases since the week ending 17 August 2014. Case numbers remain low in Liberia, with no confirmed cases nationally for the final 2 days of the week ending 11 January, and the lowest weekly total of confirmed cases since the first week of June 2014. Sierra Leone has now reported a decline in case incidence for the second week running, and recorded its lowest weekly total of new confirmed cases since the week ending 31 August 2014.

:: Each of the intense-transmission countries has sufficient capacity to isolate and treat patients, with more than 2 treatment beds per reported confirmed and probable case. However, the uneven geographical distribution of beds and cases, and the under-reporting of cases, means that not all EVD cases are isolated in several areas.

:: Similarly, each country has sufficient capacity to bury all people known to have died from EVD. However, the under-reporting of deaths means that not all burials are done safely.

:: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone report that between 84% and 99% of registered contacts are monitored, though the number of contacts traced per EVD case remains lower than expected in many districts. In areas where transmission has been driven down to low levels, rigorous contact tracing will be essential to break chains of transmission. In the week to January 11, 15% of new confirmed cases in Guinea arose from known contacts (equivalent information is not yet available for Liberia and Sierra Leone).

:: There are currently 27 laboratories providing case-confirmation services in the 3 intense-transmission countries. Four more laboratories are planned in order to meet demand.

:: Case fatality among hospitalized patients (calculated from all hospitalized patients with a reported definitive outcome) is between 57% and 60% in the 3 intense-transmission countries.
A total of 825 health-care worker infections have been reported in the 3 intense-transmission countries; there have been 493 reported deaths.

:: Many elements of the response to the Ebola outbreak, from safe burials to contact tracing, rely on actively engaging affected communities to take ownership of the response. At present, 33 of 38 (87%) of districts in Guinea, 100% of districts in Liberia, and 57% (8 of 14) of districts in Sierra Leone have systems in place to monitor community engagement activities….

…There have been in excess of 21,000 reported confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of EVD in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone (table 1), with more than 8,300 deaths (outcomes are under-reported)…
WHO: Video, audio and transcripts from the Ebola briefings
9 January 2015: Virtual press conference following the second high-level meeting on ebola vaccines access and financing. Discussion included the status of candidate vaccine clinical trials and scenarios about trial results and deployment recommendations.
– Audio of the press briefing
47 Mb, 50 minutes
– Transcript of the press briefing
pdf, 436kb
WHO: One year into the Ebola epidemic: a deadly, tenacious and unforgiving virus
15 January 2015 — Series of 14 papers that take an in-depth look at West Africa’s first epidemic of Ebola virus disease

One year after the first Ebola cases started to surface in Guinea, WHO is publishing this series of 14 papers that take an in-depth look at West Africa’s first epidemic of Ebola virus disease.

Introduction – This assessment looks at how West Africa’s epidemic of Ebola virus disease has evolved over the past year, giving special attention to the situation in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The success stories in Senegal, Nigeria, and likely Mali are also described to show what has worked best to limit onward transmission of Ebola following an imported case and bring the outbreak to a rapid end. The fact that a densely populated city like Lagos was successful in containing Ebola offers encouragement that other developing countries can do the same.
An overview of how the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo evolved and was brought under control underscores the many differences between the outbreaks in West Africa and in equatorial Africa, where all previous outbreaks since the first two in 1976 have occurred.

Key events in the WHO response are outlined to show how initial control efforts were eventually overwhelmed by the wide geographical dispersion of transmission, the unprecedented operational complexity of the outbreaks, and the many factors that undermined the power of traditional containment measures to disrupt transmission chains. These factors are also described.

In efforts coordinated by WHO, scientists and the pharmaceutical industry have geared up to develop, test, license, and introduce the first Ebola vaccines, therapies, and point-of-care diagnostic tests. As a strong expression of solidarity with the people of West Africa, these groups are attempting to compress work that normally takes two to four years into a matter of months.

Finally, the assessment takes a look at the potential future evolution of the Ebola epidemic. Based on what has been learned during this first year, what critical strategies and interventions will give countries and their partners the best chance of bringing the outbreaks under control?

1. Introduction
2. Origins of the Ebola epidemic
3. Factors that contributed to undetected spread
4. Guinea: The virus shows its tenacity
5. Liberia: A country and its capital are overwhelmed
6. Sierra Leone: A slow start to an outbreak that eventually outpaced all others
7. Key events in the WHO response
8. WHO technical support – a lasting impact?
9. Modernizing the arsenal of control tools: Ebola vaccines
10. Classical Ebola virus disease in DRC
11. Successful Ebola responses in Nigeria, Senegal, Mali
12. The importance of preparedness – everywhere
13. The warnings the world did not heed
…What needs to change
On 25 January 2015, the WHO Executive Board will hold a special session to discuss the Ebola epidemic and what needs to be done to bring it under control. To guide these discussions, WHO staff prepared six background papers, including proposals for changing the systems and structures used by WHO when it responds to emergencies.
In connection with a reform process currently under way at WHO, Executive Board members will consider the extent to which WHO is expected to be operational in the field during extended emergencies, with its staff directly coordinating or supervising the response, or whether the WHO role should be confined to technical guidance and advice. Both functions – providing technical assistance and direct aid are constitutionally mandated. The Board will also consider administrative and managerial arrangements between WHO headquarters and its six regional offices.
14. What needs to happen in 2015