Sudan virus disease (SVD) outbreak in Uganda: A brief by GloPID-R scientists highlights urgent research gaps

Appearing in BMJ Global Health on 30 December 2022, the analysis by the GloPID-R Research & Policy team provides an overview of ongoing research into the Sudan virus disease outbreak in Uganda. Their data underline the urgent need for investment to develop effective vaccine and optimal treatment strategies.

Sudan virus disease is deadly, with a mortality rate ranging from 41% to 100% in past outbreaks. On 20 September 2022, an SVD outbreak was reported by Ugandan health authorities. When the outbreak was declared over on 11 January 2023, there had been 142 confirmed cases reported with an estimated mortality rate of 39 – 47%. Seven healthcare workers had died.

This urgent situation challenged an already-burdened health system, which was dealing with multiple emergencies simultaneously. Uganda has faced several Ebola outbreaks in the past and still today there are no licensed vaccines or therapeutics for SVD.

Early in the outbreak, the GloPID-R team conducted a rapid search of existing research on SVD and provided policy briefs to GloPID-R members. For the response to future infectious disease threats, their analysis underlines the need to prepare to ensure trials are ready to be implemented at the outset of the next outbreak, to identify effective vaccines and treatment strategies for Sudan virus disease and protect populations at risk.

The publication of “Sudan virus disease outbreak in Uganda: urgent research gaps” is the result of a collaborative effort between scientists from the GloPID-R Research & Policy team (Pandemic Sciences Institute, University of Oxford) and Duduzile Ndwandwe of Cochrane South Africa (SAMRC). SAMRC is leading the development of the GloPID-R African Regional Hub.

“Although today the outbreak is officially under control, the research needs we highlighted in the article remain, and preparations must be made for them to be addressed urgently in the future,” said Dr. Alice Norton, head of the GloPID-R Research & Policy team.

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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.