Friday July 31, 2015
- Hope on the horizon at last as trials in
Guinea show that a very effective vaccine against the treacherous killer
disease is on the horizon. The World Health Organisation salutes the
people of Guinea and all those involved in the trials that now give us
all hope, the good folks we mean not those who use the outbreak as a
money-making and political tool.
The initial news has been heart-warming - that scientists
could well be on the cusp of getting humanity a vaccine that would
protect against the ravages of a treacherous and silent killer that has
fed on individuals, communities and countries. At last there's hope on
the horizon that the deadly Ebola Virus Disease is about to be conquered
- that it would no more present such a frightening threat to humanity.
BBC's Health Editor James Gallagher
writing on that organisation's many news pages states a quote from the
World Health Organisation, the WHO that "Ebola vaccine is
'potential game-changer'" and goes on to state why he believes in this
statement. "A vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus has led to 100%
protection and could transform the way Ebola is tackled, preliminary
results suggest. There were no proven drugs or vaccines against the
virus at the start of the largest outbreak of Ebola in history, which
began in Guinea in December 2013.
The World Health Organization (WHO)
said the findings, being published in the Lancet, could be a
"game-changer". Experts said the results were "remarkable". This trial
centred on the VSV-EBOV vaccine, which was started by the Public Health
Agency of Canada and then developed by the pharmaceutical company Merck.
In an analysis on that page we have this - "This could
be the breakthrough the world has been waiting for. There is caution as
the results are still preliminary, with more data coming in. But
officials at the WHO believe the effectiveness of the vaccine will end
up being between 75% and 100%. If such a vaccine was available 18 months
ago then thousands of lives could have been saved. There are still other
vaccines being trialled - notably from GSK and Johnson&Johnson -
although as the number of cases continues to fall it is becoming
increasingly difficult to prove how effective they are. The hope now is
that the legacy of this unprecedented outbreak will be a vaccine that
means a tragedy of this scale can never be repeated.
The World Health Organisation is equally hopeful and
full of high spirits given that its reputation got a dent when it was
accused of and later admitted that it was caught off-guard and too slow
to react to the initial reports that the deadly disease was on the march
in West Africa. On its news page we found this headline of hope - "World
on the verge of an effective Ebola vaccine" and goes on
to state -
"Results from an interim analysis of the Guinea Phase III
efficacy vaccine trial show that VSV-EBOV (Merck, Sharp & Dohme) is
highly effective against Ebola. The independent body of international
experts - the Data and Safety Monitoring Board – that conducted the
review, advised that the trial should continue. Preliminary results from
analyses of these interim data are published today in the British
journal The Lancet. "This is an extremely promising development," said
Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization.
"The credit goes to the Guinean Government, the people living in the
communities and our partners in this project.
An effective vaccine will
be another very important tool for both current and future Ebola
While the vaccine up to now shows 100% efficacy in individuals, more
conclusive evidence is needed on its capacity to protect populations
through what is called “herd immunity”. To that end, the Guinean
national regulatory authority and ethics review committee have approved
continuation of the trial. "This is Guinea’s gift to West Africa and the
world,” said Dr Sakoba Keita, Guinea's national coordinator for the
"The thousands of volunteers from Conakry and other
areas of Lower Guinea, but also the many Guinean doctors, data managers
and community mobilisers have contributed to finding a line of defence
against a terrible disease. The 'ring' vaccination method adopted for
the vaccine trial is based on the smallpox eradication strategy," said
John-Arne Røttingen, Director of the Division of Infectious Disease
Control at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and Chair of the
Study Steering Group.
"The premise is that by vaccinating all people who
have come into contact with an infected person you create a protective
'ring' and stop the virus from spreading further. This strategy has
helped us to follow the dispersed epidemic in Guinea, and will provide a
way to continue this as a public health intervention in trial mode."
Guinea vaccination trial began in affected communities on 23 March 2015
to evaluate the efficacy, effectiveness and safety of a single dose of
the vaccine VSV-EBOV by using a ring vaccination strategy. To date, over
4 000 close contacts of almost 100 Ebola patients, including family
members, neighbours, and co-workers, have voluntarily participated in
the trial. The trial team includes experts from The University of Bern,
the University of Florida, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical
Medicine, Public Health England, the European Mobile Laboratories among
There's joy and jubilation in many a quarter of
communities affected in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone where the virus
killed thousands as well as countries such as the United Kingdom, Spain,
Nigeria, Senegal whose nationals got infected as the battle raged against the
In Sierra Leone where sections of the press alerted the
government that the deadly disease could well have entered Sierra Leone
through our porous borders with Guinea, these concerned news outlets and
journalists were labelled as unpatriotic, anti-government and working
with the enemies of the rat and his cabal.
In the meantime, funds
earmarked for combating the disease were shared with reckless abandon
between the rat and his cronies with dubious contracts thrown into the
quagmire of ruthless corruption as highlighted by the report of the
Auditor General in that report titled -
"Report on the Audit of
the Management of the Ebola Funds"
And when it came to the
rather impossible matter of bringing the nation wreckers to justice who
benefited from the mismanagement of the funds meant to fight the killer
disease as well as provide succour and protection to health workers and
communities afflicted, the Anti-Corruption Commission headed by someone
who should know better and whose duty it is to bring to book all such
persons connived, yes we say connived with the ever-compliant and
rat-serving Parliament to make the extremely serious matter a "no-case
submission" a la Serry Kamal.
Only in Sierra Leone would
you find the law making body interpreting the law contrary to its
Only in Sierra Leone would you find a Parliament usurping the
mandate and the Constitutional right of the Judiciary, police and the Anti
Corruption Commission to rule on the findings of an audit report.
in Sierra Leone would you have the Judiciary and Parliament feeding deep
from the trough of corruption and muck brewed from the sewers of the rat
passing himself off as the President of an unfortunate country still
bedevilled by rapists, plunderers and thieves. Only in Sierra Leone.
We were again reminded of
the ravages the killer disease inflicted on Sierra Leone when going
through the pages of the Sierra Leone Telegraph online news outlet - of
the number of people killed - health workers including doctors and
nurses - whole communities wiped out and a confused population led by a
cabal whose interests lay not in helping the poor being decimated by the
disease, but by how much they can make out of the misery of suffering
Why, even the thieving so-called Information minister,
the vulture himself in human form was boasting about his new "charity"
called AFAKA. Just as we suspected that this was a channel for
laundering funds meant for the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease, we
have not heard a single whimper about this charity since the audit
report was made public. And it was this same wretched thing who told the
international media that the incubation period of the disease was "just
But back to the pages of the Sierra
Leone Telegraph which had this headline - "Ebola
in Sierra Leone – Remembering Dr. Khan and the other health workers"
reminding us - "Since the outbreak first appeared in Guinea in May 2014,
up to 510 health care workers have fallen prey to the marauding beast of
a disease, leaving many more uncared for or with limited prospects, as
signs of the epidemic waning begin to surface across the three most
affected countries. Eleven senior doctors out of Sierra Leone’s meagre
pool of 120 doctors have lost their lives to Ebola.
On July 29, 2014,
Sierra Leone recorded the death of a local health care hero among
heroes. The country experienced an irreparable loss when 39 year old Dr
Sheik Umar Khan succumbed to the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
He was the only qualified Chief Physician of the only medical unit in
the world devoted exclusively to patient care and research of viral
haemorrhagic fever. He has not been replaced. He can never be replaced.
It was perhaps the most notable tragedy at the beginning of the crisis.
One year on, Sierra Leoneans at home and across the world remember this
day with grief. We grieve that the nation’s cradle of young, talented
and selfless professionals like Dr Khan is crumbling on an almost daily
basis. We grieve that one year after Dr Khan’s death, the remaining
other health care workers continue to be stretched to their professional
Dr Khan, in the words of
one his former colleague, Dr Bausch, “was at the heart of the response –
seeing patients, directing activities, constantly on the phone with
government officials and countless others coordinating the control
He stayed in Kenema in Eastern Sierra Leone, to provide his
care to infected patients even though he had the chance to leave his
post. Like a true hero, his thirst to save and his desire to serve
overshadowed any thought of leaving the country for a safer location. He
was there when needed.
Like Dr Khan, many other doctors and local
healthcare workers in Sierra Leone embrace their own mortality and
despair by blazing through the grim circumstances of their hazardous
occupational context; determined to spread simple acts of love and care,
without recognition or fanfare. Their dedication to patients in the
absence of decent health care systems and infrastructure is remarkable,
to say the least.
Collectively, as Sierra Leonean citizens and global citizens of the
world, let us work together to put Ebola to shame by empowering our
health care workers with love, care and resources to continue the fight
against the ongoing impact of the dreaded Ebola disease.
Let us accept
them into communities and not reject them because of the stigma of
Ebola. Let us demand for better training and capacity support to enable
them to deliver better healthcare in the future. Let us pay those
medical college fees. Let us volunteer our time or resources where
possible. Let us offer burial workers and community workers jobs so they
can continue to support their families, beyond Ebola."
It is interesting, if not sickening to
see Parliament springing to the defence of wrong-doing, criminal
activity and outright thieving as revealed in the report of the Auditor
General. It must be recalled that this is not the first report by the
Auditor General in which wrong-doing had been highlighted for the
various law enforcement officials to act upon.
website of the Auditor General
has a number of
reports on how government resources were being
audit report of 2013
showed how State House and our missions overseas had been engaged in
thieving and outright chicanery.
Year after year the Auditor General's
report has been highlighting the pathetic state of the health delivery
system pointing directions as to who should be taken before the courts.
What caused Parliament to overlook these reports and come charging like
a maddened bull could only best be imagined. The Parliamentarians have
yet to account for the millions dished out to them in the fight against
the deadly Ebola Virus Disease.