Ebola outbreak in DRC ends: WHO calls for international efforts to stop other deadly outbreaks in the country

Milestones :: Perspectives

Ebola – DRC

Ebola outbreak in DRC ends: WHO calls for international efforts to stop other deadly outbreaks in the country
24 July 2018
Today marks the end of the ninth outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The World Health Organization (WHO) congratulates the country and all those involved in ending the outbreak, while urging them to extend this success to combatting other diseases in DRC.

WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, joined Minister of Health Dr Oly Ilunga for the announcement in Kinshasa.
“The outbreak was contained due to the tireless efforts of local teams, the support of partners, the generosity of donors, and the effective leadership of the Ministry of Health. That kind of leadership, allied with strong collaboration between partners, saves lives,” said Dr Tedros.

Unlike previous Ebola outbreaks in the country, this one involved four separate locations, including an urban centre with river connections to the capital and to neighbouring countries, as well as remote rainforest villages. There were initial concerns that the disease could spread to other parts of DRC, and to neighbouring countries.

Within hours of the outbreak being declared on 8 May, WHO released US$2 million from its Contingency Fund for Emergencies, deployed a team to augment capacity in the field, and activated an emergency incident management system.

“WHO moved quickly and efficiently,” said Dr Moeti, “We also demonstrated the tremendous capacity of the African region. More than three-quarters of the 360 people deployed to respond came from within the region. Dozens of experts from Guinea spent weeks leading Ebola vaccination efforts here, transferring expertise which will enable the DRC to mount an effective response both within its borders and beyond.”

Dr Tedros urged the DRC Government and the international community to build on the positive momentum generated by the quick containment of the Ebola outbreak.

“This effective response to Ebola should make the Government and partners confident that other major outbreaks affecting the country such as cholera and polio can also be tackled,” said Dr Tedros. “We must continue to work together, investing in strengthened preparedness and access to healthcare for the most vulnerable.”

:: WHO’s rapid response and scale up of operations in the DRC was funded by a total of US$4 million disbursement from the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies (CFE).
:: WHO and partners appealed for US$57 million to stop the spread of Ebola. The total funds received by all partners, as tracked by OCHA, amount to US$63 million.
:: Funding towards WHO’s contribution to the Ebola response was provided from: Italy (€ 300 000), UN CERF (US$ 800 000), Gavi (US$ 1 million), USAID (US$ 5.3 million), Wellcome Trust and UK-DFID (US$ 4.1 million), UK-DFID (£5 million), Germany (€5 million), Norway (NOK 8 million), Canada (CAD$1 million), World Bank PEF (US$ 6.8 million), Japan (US$1.3 million), EU ECHO (€ 1.5 million) and from the Ebola MPTF (US$ 428,000) bringing the total to approximately US$ 36 million.
:: Germany’s contribution is in recognition of the critical role the WHO CFE has played in responding to the Ebola virus disease outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and will go to replenish the CFE, which provided initial funds for the response efforts.
:: In-kind contributions for medical evacuation were received from Norway. EU ECHO support was provided for flights between Kinshasa and Mbandaka. Technical expertise was provided by Guinea, the UK, USA and Germany through the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN). Merck provided the vaccines that were used to protect over 3300 people.

WHO partners in the DRC Ebola response included the following:
The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Red Cross of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo Red Cross), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF), the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa-CDC), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC), ECHO, the Department for International Development (DFID), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF, UNCERF, UNOCHA, MONUSCO, UNFPA, International Organization for Migration (IOM), the FAO Emergency Management Centre – Animal Health (EMC-AH), the International Humanitarian Partnership (IHP), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), the UK Public Health Rapid Support team, the EPIET Alumni Network (EAN), the International Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Emerging Diseases Clinical Assessment and Response Network (EDCARN), the World Bank and PATH. The Government of Guinea deployed more than 30 Ministry of Health staff to assist with the ring vaccination campaign, and Merck provided the Ebola vaccine. Additional coordination and technical support through the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN), Association pour le développement de l’épidémiologie de terrain (EPITER), European Mobile Laboratory (EMLab), Infection Control Africa Network (ICAN), Institut Pasteur (IP), National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), South Africa, Robert Koch Institut (RKI), and Emergency Medical Teams (EMT).

25 July 2018
Ebola vaccine praised as Congo outbreak declared over
DRC government officially declares end of outbreak following the vaccination of over 3,000 people.
Geneva, 25 July 2018 – The first use of a vaccine to help contain an Ebola outbreak has been encouraging, Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said as the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was officially declared over.

The DRC government formally declared the Ebola outbreak over on Tuesday 24 July after no new cases were reported for 42 days. From the 4 April through 9 July there were 54 confirmed cases of Ebola reported, with 33 deaths. A total of 3,300 people received investigational doses of the vaccine as part of a ring vaccination protocol – the same used to eradicate smallpox.
The vaccination was implemented by the Government of DRC and partners including WHO, which supported national authorities in coordinating the international health response, and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). Gavi provided $1 million towards the vaccination effort.

“As soon as Ebola moved from isolated rural areas into Mbandaka – a major town and regional hub – there was justified concern that this outbreak could spiral out of control,” said Dr Berkley. “It took months of hard work by a global coalition of UN agencies, NGOs and governments, led by the DRC government with WHO support, to carry out the surveillance, containment, contact tracing and public education needed to contain and defeat Ebola. This was the first time a vaccine was used as part of this wider response and it is encouraging that there were no cases of Ebola among those given the vaccine. We also now have valuable experience of how this vaccine can be used effectively in the field.”

The vaccine has gone through Phase 3 trials, which showed the vaccine to be safe and highly effective, but has not yet been licensed by relevant regulatory authorities. While the vaccine goes through the licensing process, an agreement between Gavi and Merck, the developer of the Ebola vaccine, ensures that 300,000 investigational doses of the vaccine are available in case of an outbreak. It is these doses that were used in the DRC.

This agreement, an Advance Purchase Commitment announced in January 2016, is the first of its kind. It was designed to incentivise the rapid development of the vaccine as well as guarantee investigational doses are available while licensure is being secured. Gavi committed US$5 million to buy doses of a fully licensed vaccine as and when it becomes available. In return, Merck agreed to create the emergency stockpile…