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Ebola rapid diagnostic kit developed by UK scientists in Sierra Leone

Doctors says the kit, if approved by health authorities, could transform the admissions process with its capacity to deliver results within 20 minutes

THE GUARDIAN    by Lisa O'Carroll                              March 29, 2015

A rapid Ebola diagnostic kit similar to a pregnancy kit has been developed by British military scientists and NHS medics in Sierra Leone.

Health care workers prepare to entering a high risk zone at an Ebola virus clinic in Sierra Leone, where the diagnostic kit has been undergoing tests. Photograph: Michael Duff/AP

It can be administered at the bedside and return its first results within 20 minutes, slashing dramatically the normal 24-hour turnaround for lab results.

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Costa Rica Powered Entirely by Renewables So Far This Year

The country’s tropical climate with high rainfall, mountainous interior and low population gives it a distinct advantage in terms of renewable energy. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Image: The country’s tropical climate with high rainfall, mountainous interior and low population gives it a distinct advantage in terms of renewable energy. Photo credit: Shutterstock - March 23rd 2015 - Tierney Smith

For the last 82 days, Costa Rica has powered itself using only renewable energy sources

That means the Latin American country hasn’t had to use fossil fuels at all so far in 2015.

Last week, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) announced that 100 percent of the country’s electricity came from renewables for the first 75 days of the year, as heavy rains boosted the country’s hydroelectric power plants.


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Liberia Recommends Ebola Survivors Practice Safe Sex Indefinitely

THE NEW YORK TIMES  by Sheri Fink                                                                          March 29, 2015

The Liberian government recommended on Saturday that survivors of Ebola practice safe sex indefinitely, until more information can be collected on the length of time the virus might remain present in body fluids including semen. Previously, male survivors were advised to abstain from sexual intercourse or to use condoms for three months, reflecting that the active virus had been detected for up to 82 days in semen.

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New Kind of “Tandem” Solar Cell Developed

Tandem solar chips.

Image: Tandem solar chips. - March 25th 2015 - David L. Chandler

Researchers at MIT and Stanford University have developed a new kind of solar cell that combines two different layers of sunlight-absorbing material in order to harvest a broader range of the sun’s energy. The development could lead to photovoltaic cells that are more efficient than those currently used in solar-power installations, the researchers say.

The new cell uses a layer of silicon — which forms the basis for most of today’s solar panels — but adds a semi-transparent layer of a material called perovskite, which can absorb higher-energy particles of light.


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The State of Vaccine Confidence

The Vaccine Confidence Project    2015

Lead Authors:  Heidi Larson, PhD and Will Schulz, MPH
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Aid workers racing to defeat Ebola before the rains come

USA TODAY  by Samwar Fallah and Gregg Zoroya                                              March 28, 2015

MONROVIA, Liberia — Aid workers are rushing into neighboring Guinea to try to stanch a worrisome rise in cases of the deadly Ebola virus, which has been slowed in Sierra Leone and been all but eradicated here.

A man crouches next to the grave of an unknown man (L) at the National Memorial Cemetry on Disco Hill, Margibi County, Liberia, 11 March 2015. The cemetery was established to provide a dignified burial for ebola victims and bring an end to the usual cremation of victims during the outbreak. Liberia on 11 March observed a National Memorial Day to remember, honour, and decorate the graves of the dead. The government of Liberia on 05 March discharged the last ebola patient, thus raising the hopes of the end of the epidemic. EPA/AHMED JALLANZO ORG XMIT: MON107(Photo: AHMED JALLANZO, EPA)

The mission is urgent because the coming rainy season could hamper travel to remote villages where the disease continues to emerge.

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The tail of the epidemic and the challenge of tracing the very last Ebola case

EUROSURVEILLANCE  by  K. Kaasik-Aaslav and  D. Coulombier                                   March 26, 2015

Upon entering what seems to be the tail of the epidemic and, as in any such moment, the ‘Ebola endgame’ strategy requires adaptation to the heterogeneity of the epidemiological situation. The tools for EVD control need to be fine-tuned and the commitment from the teams supporting local authorities in affected countries needs to be sustained.

While the pressure on clinical and laboratory expertise gradually decreases, the demand shifts towards field epidemiologists to assist local public health experts and support community workers to engage in active surveillance and to monitor remaining transmission chains in affected communities.

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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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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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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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