West Africa was shaken by the major outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in 2013 to 2016. Having infected a total of 28,646 people and caused 11,323 deaths in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea mainly, the outbreak is the biggest outbreak of the disease in history. Nigeria, in particular, was affected when a Liberian businessman, Patrick Sawyer, arrived at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos for a conference but fell sick and was later admitted at the First Consultant Hospital.

Following his admission and management, he died on July 24, 2014, however, the virus had infected 20 people and eventually killed 8 people including Dr. Stella Adadevoh and Nurse Ejelonu. Other African countries affected were Senegal and Mali.

The disease has recently resurged, claiming 2173 lives out of 3673 cases in DR Congo and Uganda since August 1, 2018. Although this is the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history and has been on for over a year, the number of cases is nowhere near the toll of the last outbreak. Experts have now stated that the low number of casualties is due to the administration of an experimental vaccine called ‘rVSV-ZEBOV-GP Ebola vaccine’. The Ebola vaccine is live attenuated and was genetically engineered to carry a glycoprotein that stimulates the human body to produce antibodies against the virus.

The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts of the World Health Organization has endorsed the vaccine and it has been proven to be 97.5% effective and safe for humans. It has now saved over 90,000 people from contracting the disease and has limited the recent outbreak largely to the borders of DR Congo as only 4 cases have been detected outside the country in Uganda. This is despite the fact that the main provinces affected in DRC, North Kivu and Ituri, share borders with Uganda, South Sudan, and Rwanda.

Between August 1, 2018, and March 25, 2019, about 94,000 people had been vaccinated. Only 71 of them contracted the infection and none of the infected people died. This raises hope that in due time and with appropriate efforts, the Ebola virus can be well-controlled and may be eradicated in decades.

Sources: ARSTechnica, Medscape, WHO, Wikipedia