Wednesday, September 30, 2015

It's too soon to declare victory over Ebola

This was originally published at Global Health TV on Aug. 24, 2015.

There has been a welcome spate of good news coming out of West Africa in recent weeks on the apparent demise of Ebola, which has caused the region nothing but misery, illness (27,952 reported cases) and death (11,284 reported deaths) for over a year.

Ebola cases continue to fall. For the week ending Aug. 16, no new cases were reported in Liberia and Sierra Leone, for the first time, has gone one full week without any new cases. Guinea was the only country to report any new cases — but just three.

And The Lancet published “interim results” from research on the efficacy of an Ebola vaccine in Guinea showing a vaccine efficacy of 100%.

The news is undeniably good. In the last week, I read these headlines:

Associated Press: “UN official: Ebola epidemic could be defeated by end of 2015.”

Scientific American: “Does This Ebola Vaccine Herald the End of the Virus?”

National Public Radio: “Zero Ebola Cases Reported in Sierra Leone as Epidemic Peters Out”

This is all welcome news but if you go beyond the headlines you quickly realize that this epidemic is not yet over.