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Ebola vaccine to be available in March

DECEMBER 19, 2014 By Patrick J. Kamara

Director of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine yesterday revealed in Freetown that a new vaccine for the deadly Ebola virus disease, which has claimed the lives of more than 2,000 Sierra Leoneans, will be available in March 2015.

Speaking at a press briefing organised by the Ministry of Information and Communications, Professor Peter Piot said they were in the country to have first-hand information about the disease, do research for developing an Ebola vaccine and getting prepared for a further outbreak.

“Since the first outbreak in 1976 in Congo, we have not been able to develop any effective cure for it. But we will make sure not to miss this opportunity to develop a vaccine that will be first implemented here in February or March 2015,” said the professor who co-discovered the Ebola virus in Zaire while working at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium.

Prof. Piot noted that the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa is unprecedented, as no country had ever been challenged by the magnitude of the current outbreak.

However, he maintained that he was hopeful the outbreak would soon end provided social mobilization continues and is intensified on a daily basis, adding that the disease would not be over in Sierra Leone until it finishes in Liberia and Guinea.

“I am urging the authorities in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to intensify prevention controls,” said Prof. Piot, who is also a member of the Board of the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund in Tokyo and of the Oxford Martin Commission on Future Generations.

Meanwhile, Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Operations, Al-Sheik Kamara, told journalists at the press briefing that they would robustly monitor movements of people to and from districts across the country during and after the festive period.

“Only people moving with food items, drugs or Ebola-related materials will be allowed to travel to the provinces. A special operational patrol team inclusive of soldiers will patrol around for criminals,” he said.

President Ernest Bai Koroma announced tough measures on Wednesday (17 December) restricting movements between districts as part of an operation code-named “Western Area Surge”, which is aimed at breaking the chain of infection in especially the Western Area, which reportedly has 21 Ebola hotspots and which currently accounts for more than 2,500 infections.

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