Ebola Research Under the Pressure of an Emergency

Testing a vaccine rollout during an emergency presents special challenges, but that is the task underway for the WHO, MSF, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s ministry of health, detailed in an intriguing perspective by Charlotte J. Haug.

The hardest part, Rebecca Grais, director of research at the MSF Epicenter in Paris, told Haug, is making on-the spot judgments amid extreme uncertainty, ethical dilemmas and practical hurdles. Additionally, in Équateur, the center of the outbreak, 40% of the population is Twa—a marginalized and vulnerable African Pygmy group posing special issues related to language and culture.

Fortunately, local partners including Oly Ilunga Kalenga, the DRC minister of health, show deep commitment, Peter Salama, a WHO deputy director-general told Haug: “He personally met the vaccine at the airport and cleared it through customs—at a very odd hour of the night … we don’t often see that type of commitment anywhere around the world."

New England Journal of Medicine

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