By Robin Dopoe and Jana-Astrid Schäfer *
WASHINGTON, DC February 16, 2021 – As another Ebola virus outbreak has been reported in the Republic of Guinea, infectious disease scientist, Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan has said that regional governments in the Mano River Basin should close their borders with Guinea and secure Ebola vaccine to immunize their citizens in addition to surveillance measures.
Responding to questions from journalists during an interview yesterday, Dr. Nyan emphasized that “Liberia and other countries in the sub-region need to completely close their borders with Guinea immediately, as well as purchase Ebola vaccine to immunize citizens against the deadly virus, while putting in place surveillance measures, including increasing testing capacities and contact-tracing.”
He added that, “Ebola is not COVID-19; we don’t want a repeat of the costly mistake made when the Liberian and Sierra Leonean governments delayed the closing of borders with Guinea during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, that which contributed to the cross-border transmission of Ebola into Liberia and Sierra Leone.”
Dr. Nyan, who is Chief Medical and Scientific Officer of Shufflex Biomed, said that Liberia particularly faces a complex public health problem with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has recently been compounded by reported cases of polio in the country. This could spell out grave consequences should we have transmission in Liberia, he continued in an unvaccinated population.
The US Food and Drug Administration approved an Ebola virus vaccines after the trials were completed in the Democratic Republic of Congo and found to be 100% effective in preventing Ebola cases with symptom onset greater than 10 days after vaccination.
Recent reports of another Ebola virus outbreak in Guinea have stirred up concerns in the West African sub-region. Three persons have died and about four others are being treated for what health authorities in Guinea confirmed to be cases of the Ebola virus. Guinea was the country of origin of the 2014 Ebola virus which ended with more than 28,600 cases and about 11,325 deaths according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Recent cases of Ebola have been detected in Gouecke, in Southern Guinea which is about 145 kilometers from Ganta, a commercial city in Nimba County, in Northern Liberia.
“These Mano River Union countries need to pool financial and material resources as well as expertise to mount an urgent coordinated response to this resurgence of Ebola, instead of always waiting for ‘stake holders’ and donors,” Dr. Nyan emphasized.
He further cautioned that, “these governments should not run their healthcare and public health responses by always relying on charitable donations; they need to invest heavily in the science and innovation, medicine, and public health capacities.”
During the 2014 Ebola epidemic, Dr. Nyan testified before the United States Congress and suggest a road map to ending the outbreak including the establishment of the African Centers for Disease Control and National Public Health Institutes around the regions. He is winner of the 2017 African Innovation Prize for Social Impact and also awarded a Patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office for his invention of the rapid multiplex pathogens diagnostic test, which can simultaneously detect and identify multiple infections, including Ebola, HIV/AIDS, Dengue virus, and Coronaviruses (COVID-19), among others. He served as member of the Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) during the Ebola Vaccine trials.