Ebola outbreak in DRC galvanizes GloPID-R members

The Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo declared a new outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Bikoro in Equator Province on May 8. In a rapid response, GloPID-R members Wellcome and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) made funding available a mere 48 hours after the initial announcement.

Wellcome’s £2m emergency funding will also be supported by £1million funding from DFID through the
Joint Initiative on Epidemic Preparedness.

The funding is designed to support the critical research needed for the operational response now underway in the Government of the DRC and will be available specifically to the Government of the DRC and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr Jeremy Farrar, GloPID-R Vice Chair and Director of Wellcome said: “It’s vital the global response to this outbreak is swift. We know from previous outbreaks that the DRC are ready to act, but they need global support to ensure this outbreak is contained effectively. […] Further funds will be needed and we are working with our global partners to address these needs.”

To help have a coordinated, global response, Wellcome is working closely with GloPID-R members as well as WHO, an observer in GloPID-R.

Dr Peter Salama, WHO Deputy Director-General, Emergency Preparedness and Response, said: “The first step in containing this outbreak is to understand the extent of transmission, ensure care for people infected, engage communities and trace contacts. The generous support from Wellcome and partners like DFID and GloPID-R in combination with WHO’s Contingency Fund for Emergencies is already making a difference.”

From the research undertaken during the last Ebola outbreak in 2016, some advancements had been made in vaccines. In December 2016, trials of an Ebola vaccine, with funders including Wellcome, DFID and the Norwegian Government, confirmed it provides a high level of protection against a strain of the deadly disease. Unfortunately, the vaccine arrived too late to have a significant impact on the 2016 outbreak.

This vaccine made by Merck, Sharpe & Dohme has been proved safe for human use and is stockpiled, ready for use, by the vaccines alliance GAVI.

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The GloPID-R Secretariat is a project which receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101094188.