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7 Key Insights in Using ICT to Improve Ebola Response

Image: A billboard that reads 'Stop the Ebola Virus'

Image: A billboard that reads 'Stop the Ebola Virus' - October 31st 2014 - Wayan Vota

Yesterday, we had the 85th Technology Salon in Washington, DC, this one focused on How Can ICTs Improve Our Ebola Response? Be sure to sign up to get invited to our next event.

In the lively morning-long discussion with 35 key thought leaders and decision makers from across the technology and development sectors, we came to several interesting conclusions.


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White House mulls using robots to fight Ebola outbreak

How robots could be used to fight Ebola    

(Two stories, scroll down)

TECH  TIMES                                               Nov. 9, 2014
Dianne Depra

With the Ebola virus claiming nearly 5,000 lives, it's understandable why the White House is now considering options outside of traditional means to help curb the outbreak, enlisting robot technology to join in the fight.

Officials gathered together specialists on Nov. 7, holding discussions at University of California, Berkeley, the Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Texas A&M University to talk about how robots can be utilized to aid health workers in West Africa.

The day was intended to inspire research committees in various sectors to assess how they may be able to take advantage of innovation and technology and assist the international effort against Ebola, according to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

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Ebola outbreak: Africa sets up $28.5m crisis fund

BBC                                                   Nov. 8 2014

Top African business leaders have established an emergency fund to help countries hit by the Ebola outbreak.

A pledging meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised $28.5m to deploy at least 1,000 health workers to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia..... 

It is not clear why exactly the number of cases in Liberia has dipped - but it has been running an awareness campaign to advertise best health practices and install hand washing stations.

Speaking at the end of the Addis Abada meeting, African Union chairman Dlamini Zuma said the resources mobilised would be part of a longer term programme to deal with such outbreaks in the future.

The chairman of telecommunications giant Econet Wireless, Strive Masiyiwa, said that several companies had pledged money to the emergency fund - to be managed by the African Development Bank.

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UN releases manual for safe Ebola burials

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS                                     NOV. 17, 2014

BERLIN  The World Health Organization has released a 17-page manual detailing how to safely bury people who have died from Ebola.

The U.N. agency said Friday the guidelines are part of an effort to reduce the likelihood of people contracting Ebola from corpses.

WHO Ebola expert Pierre Formenty says at least one in five infections occur during burials.

The guidelines give step-by-step advice to health workers for both Christian and Muslim burials.

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See WHO manual

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US Officials Unveil Plan to Test Ebola Drugs

NEW ORLEANS --The quest for an Ebola treatment is picking up speed. Federal officials have unveiled a plan to test multiple drugs at once, in an umbrella study with a single comparison group to give fast answers on what works.

"This is novel for us" and is an approach pioneered by cancer researchers, said Dr. Luciana Borio, head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Ebola response. "We need to learn what helps and what hurts" and speed treatments to patients, she said.

She outlined the plan Wednesday at an American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene conference in New Orleans....

Everyone in the umbrella study would get supportive care, such as intravenous fluids, then be assigned to receive one of several drugs or be in a comparison group. That's needed because without one, there's no way to know if any problems or deaths are from the drug or the disease, Cox said....

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EXCLUSIVE-Scientists tell US: find recipe for Ebola cure in survivors' blood

REUTERS                                                     Nov. 7, 2014
By Sharon Begley

NEW YORK - A group of scientists including three Nobel laureates in medicine has proposed that U.S. health officials chart a new path to developing Ebola drugs and vaccines by harnessing antibodies produced by survivors of the deadly outbreak.

The proposal builds on the use of "convalescent serum," or survivors' blood, which has been given to at least four U.S. Ebola patients who then recovered from the virus. It is based on an approach called passive immunization, which has been used since the 19th century to treat diseases such as diphtheria but has been largely surpassed by vaccination.

The scientists propose using new genetic and other technologies to find hundreds or thousands of different Ebola antibodies, determine their genetic recipe, grow them in commercial quantities and combine them into a single treatment analogous to the multi-drug cocktails that treat HIV-AIDS.

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Experimental Ebola drugs should not be withheld, WHO says

World Health Organisation doubts feasibility of placebo-controlled trials in west Africa, but FDA favours ‘gold standard’

THE GUARDIAN                                                                                                           Nov. 6, 2014
By Sarah Bosley

Scientists involved in trials of experimental drug treatments for the Ebola epidemic in west Africa should not be compelled to withhold them from some patients, says the World Health Organisation, despite objections from the US that it is the only way to be sure they work.

Vials of the experimental VSE-EBOV vaccine for Ebola. Photograph: Mathilde Missioneiro/AP

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UT nasal spray vaccine for Ebola effective in monkeys

By Todd Ackerman                                                                           Nov. 5, 2014

... researchers at the University of Texas-Austin have developed a nasal spray vaccine that has protected monkeys against the deadly Ebola virus even a year after immunization.

The vaccine, a genetically engineered cold virus containing a tiny portion of Ebola DNA, saved 100 percent of monkeys who got a single spray through the nose in a new UT study. Injecting the vaccine only saved the lives of about 50 percent.

 Maria Croyle, a professor of pharmaceutics and the study's principal investigator, said an inhaled Ebola vaccine is more attractive because it would be cheaper and safer than needle-delivered vaccines.

"The main advantage is the long-lasting protection after a single inhaled dose," Maria Croyle, a  professor of pharmaceutics and the study's principal investigator, said in a statement. "This is important since the longevity of other vaccines for Ebola (hasn't been) fully evaluated....

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Treating Those Treating Ebola in Liberia

NEW YORK TIMES                                  Nov. 6, 2014
By Sheri FInk, MD
HARBEL, Liberia — As the number of people sickened with Ebolasoared this summer, American and Liberian officials faced a new challenge: How could they encourage international medical workers, understandably frightened about the risks, to come help fight the disease? The officials knew they would have to provide some assurances to the workers that they would be cared for if they fell ill.

Their answer, a dedicated Ebola field hospital for health workers, is scheduled to open soon outside Monrovia, the capital.

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How Guinea Found the Best Way to Survive Ebola

TIME MAGAZINE                                         Nov. 5, 2014

by Alice Park

As the world waits for new treatrments and a vaccine. doctors in Guinea have found the best way to help patients survive Ebola.

... from the tragic illness and mortality emerge some important lessons from the region.The latest, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, details the cases that first appeared in Guinea’s capital city of Conakry between March and April. Unlike in other parts of the region, where the mortality rate from Ebola averages around 60% to 70%, in Conakry it has remained around 43%.

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