Yesterday, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published encouraging results showing that antiviral remdesivir and antibodies in the ZMapp regimen were effective in fighting the current Ebola virus strain. The results were published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases.
The study also showed that a reverse engineered virus developed by CDC scientists was an admirable substitute for the circulating virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), since they did not have access to reality.
Test of 2 field treatments
Both experimental treatments have been used in the DRC since last November. Although the clinical data showed their effectiveness, the drugs had been developed during the 2014-2016 West Africa epidemic to be used against a different strain of Ebola virus. And because Ebola is an RNA virus, it can mutate, leaving some wondering if the treatments would be as effective against the current strain seen in the DRC.
CDC researchers reverse-engineered a sample of the current epidemic strain – the Ituri strain – into a Level 4 CDC Biosafety Laboratory (Maximum Safety Type) to test treatments. . They created the synthetic virus because no sample or isolate of the current strain was made available by the DRC.
"As technology advances and rapid sequencing of virus strains in low-resource settings in the field becomes more feasible, if isolates are not available, we recommend a policy that Reverse genetics is used as a standard method for generating epidemic strains, "according to the authors. of the study concluded.
This is the first time that reverse genetics technology is used to generate an isolate of the Ebola virus. In addition to showing the efficacy of ZMapp and remdesivir, the synthetic strain has also validated two diagnostic tests currently used in the DRC.
"Having access to this virus will allow us to examine whether other compounds or potential therapies are affecting the virus in the laboratory," said Inger Damon, MD, PhD, who is responsible for the Ebola Virus Disease Response Strategy. CDC in 2018 and director of CDC's CDC division. Pathogenic consequences and pathology in a press release.
In a Statstory, several Ebola researchers reacted to work. Although they described the effort as impressive, they said it would have been helpful to obtain the virus isolates from the current outbreak.
"I do not know anyone who has isolates from this outbreak," said Tom Geisbert, PhD, of the medical branch of the University of Texas at Galveston..
"They've done a great job here in no time, but dude, it takes a lot of resources, money and energy to create a cloned virus by reverse genetics – and it would be so much easier if someone had just sent the isolate. "
The need for financing increases
In order to contain and ultimately end the Ebola outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri provinces in the DRC, the United States must honor its funding pledges towards the United States. World Health Organization (WHO). Other countries also face the challenge of fighting this disease. .
This is the message of an editorial yesterday in Nature, who says that. Of the G7 countries, only Germany and the UK are on track to meet their commitments to the WHO.
"The United States, Canada, France, Italy and Japan have not contributed, since the United States is considered to be the largest contributor to emergencies in the world. health, its deficit is disconcerting, "write the authors.
according to NatureWHO has requested $ 98 million for the Ebola response, but received only half of it. At the same time, the WHO Africa office warned in its latest status report that suboptimal funds could result in additional transmission in the region.
"Without adequate funding to fill the current gap, response activities will be compromised, which will negatively impact the overall response, resulting in a drastic reduction in vital health services available and a cessation of operations. this critical period of the epidemic, "said WHO.
Stable transmission in Beni and Mabalako
In the last three weeks, the DRC has recorded 250 cases of the virus, including 36% in Beni and 22% in Mabalako, said the WHO statement. Intervening workers receive an average of 1,775 alerts per day, of which 1,645 (93%) were investigated within 24 hours of registration.
"Case incidence rates remained virtually unchanged last week," said WHO. "While the number of new cases continues to decline in former hot spots, such as Butembo, Katwa and Manama health zones, there has been an increase in the number of cases in Beni and a continued high incidence. in certain areas of the Mabalako Health Zone. "
The DRC 's Ministry of Health will likely confirm 9 new Ebola cases today, bringing the total number of outbreaks to 2,437 according to the WHO' s online dashboard on HIV / AIDS. the Ebola virus.
Yesterday, the DRC confirmed 10 new cases, including 8 in Beni. The officials also confirmed 11 new deaths, bringing the total number of victims of this epidemic to 1,641 deaths. A total of 322 suspect cases are also under investigation.
Vaccination continues with the rVSV-ZEBOV virus from Merck; 155,800 people have been vaccinated with the vaccine since August 2018.
Jul 9 Lancet Infect Dis study
July 9 CDC press release
Jul 9 Nature editorial
July 10th WHO status report
WHO Ebola Dashboard
July 9 DRC report