Another No-Go on International Emergency

For the second time, a WHO panel last Friday passed on declaring the worsening Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, Science reports.

The designation—which affects surveillance plans, travel, and trade—has been invoked just 4 times, including during the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak and the 2016 Zika outbreak.

The panel chair reasoned that organizations are already doing “excellent work” to contain the outbreak, which has not spread internationally.

Critics say the decision could hamper much-needed attention and funding to fight the outbreak, while others say such a designation could backfire, stoking fear and hampering trade in the region.  

One promising development: An experimental Merck vaccine deployed to more than 90,000 people in the DRC outbreak was shown to be protective 97.5% of the time, STAT reports.

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