"DRC Ebola News (7/17/19)." CSIS Commission on Strengthening America's Health Security, Center for Strategic and International Studies, July 17, 2019. Accessed June 12, 2020.

Daily update for July 17th, 2019 on the Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

Photo Credit: Mike Stone/Getty Images

There were 8 new cases as of July 16th.

An aggressive push to use a second experimental Ebola vaccine to try to help stop the nearly yearlong outbreak in DRC may have backfired.

WHO reported that a Congolese fisherwoman travelled across the border to Uganda sell fish, where she had four vomiting incidents before returning to DRC and dying of Ebola, fueling concerns that the virus may be spreading beyond DRC.

WHO AFRO Dashboard/DRC MoH Stats

DRC MoH Statistics

Total cases in DRC: 2,512

  • Confirmed cases: 2,418
  • Probable cases: 94
  • Suspected cases: 423

Deaths in DRC: 1,676

Vaccinated in DRC: 163,533

Debate over whether to test a second Ebola vaccine turns acrimonious


By Helen Branswell, 7/17/19

In an interview with STAT, DRC’s health minister, Dr. Oly Ilunga, criticized the actions of some who want to add the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine to the outbreak response arsenal. “We are in the presence of a very, very dangerous situation. We have people who don’t want to discuss [their plans] with the government. People who have no respect for ethics. And they are ready to introduce a new vaccine and to create new communications problems and trust problems with the community,” he said. “So I just made the decision to say no. We are not going to start a discussion again.”

The only way to test if they work is to conduct clinical trials during an Ebola outbreak — a highly challenging time in which to do research. Talks have been underway for months among partners in the response about how to use the current outbreak to test unlicensed Ebola vaccines and whether additional unlicensed vaccines could help contain the outbreak.

No Ebola vaccines have yet been licensed in Western countries, though Merck has started the approvals process with the Food and Drug Administration. Russia and China have licensed vaccines, but both countries licensed the products without human effectiveness data to support their use. While there has been discussion about whether to test the Chinese or the two Russian vaccines, none of these vaccines is currently available in mass quantities. The only other vaccine for which there is a large supply is the J&J vaccine. And for months discussions have been underway about how and where to use the vaccine.

There have been serious concerns raised about the communications and logistical challenges a trial of another vaccine would pose, especially the J&J product, which was designed to be used to prevent outbreaks, not stop them. It must be administered in two doses given nearly two months apart. Some DRC and NGO officials worried it might be difficult to communicate why some people were getting a one-dose vaccine while others got one requiring two shots, and that the different schedules might give rise to rumors that would erode confidence in and acceptance of the vaccines. “How can you, in an environment where people are traveling a lot, where people have no identity card, how can you organize a two-dosage vaccination in rural areas?” Ilunga asked. “You vaccinate somebody today and say, ‘Come back two months later.’ … Even from a logistical point of view, it’s not feasible.” Ilunga said that, instead of modifying the study protocol to take into account the conditions the DRC had set, those designing the study of the J&J vaccine continued to plan for a trial that would also serve as a firewall, citing confidential emails that had been shared with him. “So they were deliberately ignoring the conclusion of the forum and the decision made by the minister of health,” Ilunga said. “This for me is unacceptable.”

WHO reports new Ebola incident in Uganda amid fears of virus spreading


By Tom Miles; Editing by Gareth Jones, 7/17/19

The WHO report said 19 other fishmongers were listed as possible contacts in the Uganda incident. It said 44 currency exchange workers had volunteered to be vaccinated, while another 590 fishmongers could be targeted for vaccination. Local leaders were very cooperative, but none of the market traders were willing to provide further information for fear of losing business, given that it was a market day, the WHO added. A separate WHO report said there was also a very high risk in the Arua district of Uganda, which borders a Congolese area where an Ebola patient died after having had contact with over 200 people.


Tweet by World Health Organization (WHO)– 7/17/19


The International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on #Ebola convened by @DrTedros is currently ongoing. Read more about the Emergency Committee 👉

Tweet by Ministry of Health- Uganda– 7/17/19


JOINT PRESS RELEASE: @MinofHealthUG and @WHOUganda are identifying contacts of a person from the Democratic Republic of Congo who visited #Uganda to trade in fish before returning to DRC, where she later died of #Ebola. 👉🏾At present,there is NO confirmed case of Ebola in Uganda

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