rapid Ebola test
The WHO announced on 20 February that
it has approved for use a rapid diagnostic
test kit for Ebola that can provide results
in 15 minutes and correctly identify 92%
of patients infected by the disease that has
killed more than 9,400 people, mainly in
Earlier in Geneva, the UN health agency
announced that it had “assessed and listed
the ReEBOV Antigen Rapid Test Kit [manufactured
by Corgenix Medical Corp of the
United States] as eligible for procurement
to Ebola affected countries”.
The test was evaluated under WHO’s
Emergency Assessment and Use, a procedure
established to provide minimum quality,
safety and performance assurance for
diagnostic products in the context of the
According to WHO, the new test, which
can provide results within 15 minutes, “is
able to correctly identify about 92% of Ebola
infected patients and 85% of those not
infected with the virus”.
In comparison, the turn-around time of
current tests for Ebola can vary between 12
and 24 hours, it said.
WHO Spokesman Tarik Jašarević told reporters
in Geneva that the new test was a little
bit less accurate than the test that WHO was
currently using, but it was easy to perform, it
did not require electricity and it could be used
in lower level healthcare facilities or in mobile
units for patients in remote settings.
The WHO spokesman also said that a
number of agencies, such as the Médecins
Sans Frontičres (MSF), have expressed interest
in purchasing it.
The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa
has affected more than 23,000 people
with over 9,400 deaths, mostly in Guinea,
Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Meanwhile at UN headquarters, Dr
Bruce Aylward, who leads WHO’s response
on Ebola, and Dr David Nabarro, the UN
Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on
Ebola, briefed Member States on the need
to maintain the robust response to get the
number of cases to zero.
“As long as there is even one case of
Ebola active in the human population,
it’s a danger for everybody – it’s a problem
for West Africa, it’s a problem for Africa
and it’s a problem for the world, Dr Nabarro
told reporters after their briefing.
“We must be fully engaged, all of us, until
the last person with Ebola is treated and
The two doctors expressed their concerns
about the recent slowdown in the pattern
of decline in cases in January and February
in the three most affected countries of
Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Referring to a graph showing that the
four weeks prior to February 18 has seen
more than 120 Ebola cases a week, Dr Aylward
said “this is not what you want to see”
and described the trend as “a very bumpy
road” on the way to zero cases.
They also told reporters that the upcoming
rainy season starting in April-May
would complicate the situation as it could
give the virus a chance to get ahead of the
Getting to zero
Dr David Nabarro, the Secretary-General’s
Special Envoy on Ebola, told the
United Nations General Assembly on 18
February that the final phase of “getting to
zero” cases may well be the hardest, saying
the hunt to track down the virus is “like
looking for needles in haystacks”.
Dr Nabarro told reporters that having
strong surveillance capabilities on the
ground to identify people with Ebola, to
confirm diagnosis, to quickly arrangement
arrange effective treatment, to identify
people that are their contacts and to keep
those people under review for 21 days “is
a really difficult task”, especially as these
tasks must be coordinated through 63 different
government structures in an area
the size of France.
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General,
said: “Today, we face a critical turning
point. The pattern of the Ebola outbreak has changed. 2015 has seen a significant
decline in the number of new Ebola cases
in the three affected countries.
“Let us provide the resources needed to
get to zero.
“We are accelerating our work to reach
the targets set by the Presidents of the
Mano River Union on 15 February – zero
cases in 60 days, by mid-April,” Ban said.
Sam Kutesa, Assembly President, said
that while the international community
should feel heartened by the progress that
has been made against the virus in the
most affected countries – Guinea, Sierra
Leone and Liberia – “we cannot yet claim
triumph over Ebola”. With the rainy season
quickly approaching, efforts must be
redoubled in order to ensure a final, successful
push for eliminating this epidemic
but also, begin to direct attention to the
region’s long-term recovery effort.
of upload: 20th March 2015