It is impossible to forget the Ebola epidemic that ravaged Sierra Leone in 2014 and 2015. Since that tragedy we have worked hard to prevent a catastrophic return, and now collaborate with a number of prestigious research centres to study the disease, contain its spread and analyse the effectiveness and distribution of the vaccine.
Yesterday, at the Davos World Economic Forum (WEF), Bill Gates cited data from the latest study we conducted with the Bruno Kessler Foundation of Trento, now published in the international journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.
The study examined ways of using the Ebola vaccine to contain future outbreaks. The availability of an effective vaccine has raised hopes of preventing devastating epidemics like this recent one. However, it will not be possible to protect everybody with a vaccination programme of the kind routinely mounted for children, as only around 300,000 doses will be available.
As Stefano Merler, a researcher at the Bruno Kessler Foundation, explained: “We considered how we might use the available vaccine to contain a future outbreak, and have shown that containment could be achieved by vaccinating the contacts of Ebola victims, for example their relations, and also vaccinating the contacts of these contacts.”
The World Economic Forum discussion was further recognition of the research programme, which aims to meet the needs of the region’s inhabitants and improve their lives. We take pride in this, because poor countries have a right to a reliable medical service based on scientific evidence, not a second-rate substitute.
CUAMM and the Bruno Kessler Foundation could not have performed this work without the support of the local population and the volunteers on the ground.