Thursday, 14 January 2016

Ebola virus disease is not known to be occurring in humans anywhere in the world right now...but the virus is probably everywhere it was before..

"Ebola" is not "extinct"

Ebola virus is not kicked out of West Africa.

West Africa is not "Ebola free".

It is just wrong to say there is no more Ebola virus in Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone.

But - as of right now - there are no known human cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, or anywhere else in the world for that matter.

That does not mean there are not cases we don't know about. It certainly does not mean that Ebola virus is not still to be found in one or more species of animal reservoir in the forests throughout Africa.

Of course we still don't know every way in which Ebola virus can re-occur in and from humans. We hardly know all the details of what it has done during the past 2 years thanks to slow and old fashioned ideas about publishing important clicnial data during times of wide need. 

Do we have reliable antivirals to use after this epidemic? We do not. We have a pretty good looking vaccine - and lots of other potential things. We did show what the world can do when it works together in trying to get a vaccine to people. But we started much too late, in every aspect of the response. Everyone did. Except those on the ground already.

Is Ebola virus persisting in an unknown number of EVD survivors? Undoubtedly. Sorry - but stigmatisation aside - that is a fact. Sticking our heads in the sand and not looking closely enough at events are two of the many reasons EVD was able to sow the destruction it did in West Africa. 

Let's face the facts. Not hide from them or fail to fully explore them. 

For the 900 health workers, of whom >500 died; for the >28,000 EVD case and >11,000 deaths; for the many families and friends, villages and communities who lost someone dear to them - we are all so glad it is nearly over. There will be more challenges in the coming month and years, but the constant Ebola-driven fear, sickness and death is behind you now. 

One way or another. 

For the rest of us, it is our responsibility to do honour to those who have and still are suffering by never again being so slow, so arrogant and so limited in our imagination as to let this happen - to any country - again.

But of course, we will. 

We do. 

We are.