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Laboratory support during and after the Ebola virus endgame: towards a sustained laboratory infrastructure

EUROSURVEILLANCE by I. Goodfellow, C. Reusken, and M. Koopmans  

  March 26, 2015                                                              

The Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa is on the brink of entering a second phase in which the (inter)national efforts to slow down virus transmission will be engaged to end the epidemic. The response community must consider the longevity of their current laboratory support, as it is essential that diagnostic capacity in the affected countries be supported beyond the end of the epidemic.

The emergency laboratory response should be used to support building structural diagnostic and outbreak surveillance capacity.

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Scientists argue over access to remaining Ebola hotspots

The slowdown in the West African Ebola epidemic is welcome news and reason to be hopeful—but it’s also creating a new problem. With fewer new cases occurring, it is becoming more and more difficult to test vaccines and drugs. As a result, conflicts are looming over who can test Ebola drugs and vaccines in Guinea and Sierra Leone.

An Ebola treatment unit in Guinea.Samuel Hanryon/MSF

In Guinea, a large consortium that includes Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) vaccinated the first volunteers at risk of Ebola on Monday in a big trial of a vaccine produced by Merck and NewLink Genetics. But the team feels threatened because researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) are looking to move another vaccine study from Liberia, where the epidemic has come to a virtual standstill, to Guinea.

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British medic declared free of Ebola

BBC  by 

A UK female military medic who has been discharged from hospital after being declared free of Ebola said it was thanks to medics that she is alive.

Anna Cross was the first person in the world to be given the experimental Ebola drug MIL 77, her doctors said.

Corporal Cross, aged 25 from Cambridge, caught the virus while working as a volunteer nurse in Sierra Leone.

Doctors at the hospital...described the drug she was given as a close relative of the medicine ZMapp and that MIL 77 was made in China...

It is too soon to know what role the drug played in Cpl Cross' recovery, they added.

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Ebola whole virus vaccine shown effective, safe in primates

SCIENCE DAILY                                                March 26, 2015

(Scroll down for complete paper.)
An Ebola whole virus vaccine, constructed using a novel experimental platform, has been shown to effectively protect monkeys exposed to the often fatal virus.

The vaccine, described today (March 26, 2015) in the journal Science, was developed by a group led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a University of Wisconsin-Madison expert on avian influenza, Ebola and other viruses of medical importance. It differs from other Ebola vaccines because as an inactivated whole virus vaccine, it primes the host immune system with the full complement of Ebola viral proteins and genes, potentially conferring greater protection.

"In terms of efficacy, this affords excellent protection," explains Kawaoka, a professor of pathobiological sciences in the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine and who also holds a faculty appointment at the University of Tokyo. "It is also a very safe vaccine."

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Two experimental Ebola vaccines pass safety test in African trial

REUTERS    by  Sharon Begley                                                                       March 26, 2015

NEW YORK - Two experimental Ebola vaccines, one from GlaxoSmithKline PLC and the other from biotech start-up NewLink Genetics Corp, "appear to be safe" part way through a clinical trial being conducted in Liberia, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) said on Thursday.

The two vaccines, each given in a single injection, are being tested for safety and efficacy on more than 600 people in Liberia in a mid-stage clinical trial sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a branch of NIH.

The Ebola epidemic that began in West Africa one year ago has killed more than 10,200 people, but a decline in new cases in the most affected countries, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, has led to hopes that it may be ending.

Based on the encouraging safety results, the study may now advance to the next phase of efficacy testing, in which additional volunteers are injected with the GSK vaccine, the NewLink vaccine, or a dummy shot and assessed to see whether their immune system responds by producing anti-Ebola antibodies.

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Ebola pioneer, stem cell researcher honoured with Canada Gairdner Awards

CANADIAN PRESS                                                                                March 25, 2015
One of the co-discoverers of the Ebola virus and a leading Canadian stem cell researcher are among this year's winners of the prestigious Canada Gairdner Awards.

Dr. Peter Piot is the recipient of the Canada Gairdner Global Health Award, recognizing his work on the discovery of the Ebola virus in 1976 and his leadership in the global response to the HIV-AIDS epidemic.

Dr. Janet Rossant, chief of research at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, is the recipient of the 2015 Canada Gairdner Wightman Award, which honours a Canadian who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in medicine and medical science.

Five international scientists are also being honoured with Canada Gairdner Awards, two each from the United States and Japan and one from Switzerland....

Dr. Peter Piot won the 2015 Canada Gairdner Global Health Award in recognition of his work on the discovery of the Ebola virus in 1976 and his leadership in the global response to the HIV-AIDS epidemic. (David Azia/Associated Press)

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Ebola virus not mutating as quickly as thought

SCIENCE NEWS  by Ashley Yaeger                                                      March 26, 2015

(Scroll down for full study.)

The virus causing the current Ebola epidemic in West Africa is not evolving as quickly as some scientists had suggested.

REGULAR RATE  A genetic analysis suggests that the Ebola virus, shown here in orange, is not evolving as fast as expected.

In a paper last August, researchers reported that the virus (Zaire ebolavirus) was altering its genes almost twice as fast as it had during previous Ebola outbreaks in Central Africa (SN: 9/20/14, p. 7). However, a new genetic analysis shows that the virus is mutating at roughly the same rate as in past outbreaks, researchers report online March 26 in Science. The finding suggests the virus has not become more virulent or transmissible during the West Africa outbreak.

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Ebola upsurge could undo progress in blink of an eye, warns expert

THE GUARDIAN by Sam Jones                           March 26, 2015

Despite the massive push to bring the number of new Ebola cases down to zero as quickly as possible, there will inevitably be “flare-ups” that could reverse the overall downward trend and prove difficult to contain, the UN’s response co-ordinator has warned.

Dr David Nabarro, the UN’s special envoy for Ebola, said the huge medical, administrative and logistical operation to fight the disease could still be set back by individuals ignoring official advice.

“There will be flare-ups, there will be disappointments; there will be people who evade quarantine – because nobody likes being told to stay put – there will be people who choose not to declare that they’ve got a relative ill, there will be people who get ill and just misdiagnose themselves,” he said....

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How Did Ebola Volunteers Know Where To Go In Liberia? Crowdsourcing!

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO  by Poncie Rutsch                                                      March 25, 2015
From more than 900 miles away, Kpetermeni Siakor helped get volunteers to the right neighborhoods in his native Liberia during the height of the Ebola epidemic.

Kpetermeni Siakor (left), a Liberian who is studying in Ghana, used crowdsourcing software to help out during the Ebola epidemic. Courtesy of Ashesi University College

He did it with Ushahidi, crowdsourcing software that was developed in Kenya in 2008, when the country experienced a wave of post-election violence. The word Ushahidi means testimony in Swahili.

"The government had shut down internet connections and radio stations, so Ushahidi was born out of the need to let people know what is happening," says Siakor, 26. He's a computer science student at Ashesi University College in Accra, Ghana, and receives financial support from the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program.

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Dr. Gavin Macgregor-Skinner - Ebola - Health Organizations Slow to Respond


CLICK HERE - RECORDED VIDEO - Dr. Gavin Macgregor-Skinner - March 23, 2015

Public health emergency expert Dr. Gavin Macgregor-Skinner discusses a new report saying faster action would have stopped the spread of Ebola.


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