On 4th December, all the 42 people who had been identified as contacts to the first confirmed Ebola case from Masaka district were discharged from institutional quarantine after showing no symptoms of the deadly virus.
These had been identified as Ebola suspects during the contact tracing process by the joint Ebola Taskforce as part of the response interventions, after the first Ebola-positive case, which was registered from Kimanya-Kobera division, Masaka city.
Dr. Patrick Kasedwa, the Masaka City Health Officer who also coordinates the local surveillance activities says the discharged persons have been monitored for the last 21 days, which are regarded as the incubation period of the virus. He says all the 42 people did not present with clinical signs of the deadly hemorrhagic fever.
At the beginning of last month, the Ministry of Health recorded the first Ebola case after a female patient who had been admitted at the Masaka Regional Referral Hospital tested positive for Ebola Virus, and eventually died two days later.
Notably, the female patient had traveled from Kawala in Kampala to visit her relatives who leave in Kimanya ward, Masaka City.
Dr. Kasendwa indicates that they traced people that were believed to have been in contact with the patient or her close family members, who attended to her before her death, such that they can be put under quarantine as they monitored for the deadly virus.
He explains that some of the suspected contacts had been put under institutional quarantine at a local guest house while others preferred self-isolation, and have all been monitored for at least 21 mandatory days, and have shown no symptoms.
“Even after being discharged, we are going to continue with follow-up monitoring to ensure that they do not have anything to worry about,” he said.
The discharge of the contacts come about a week after samples taken from the eight health workers who attended to the patient on her admission into the hospital also tested negative for the Ebola virus.
Ronald Katende, the Masaka City Resident Commissioner who is also Chairperson of the Joint Ebola Taskforce in the area indicates that despite the registered sign of relief, they are proceeding with vigorous public awareness campaigns to ensure that the communities do not relent on being required vigilance and observing the standard operating procedures.
He explains that they have sent out public health educators with printed materials and loudspeakers, which they are using to create community awareness and as well as mobilizing the public to stick to preventive measures.
However, the circumstance surrounding her death have since created controversy between health workers and family members who have since disputed reports that she had Ebola, claiming that the victim had suffered a miscarriage. But according to reports at the Masaka Regional Referral Hospital, the patient died of Ebola.
Meanwhile Sabin Vaccine Institute is the first organization to provide the World Health Organization (WHO) its Ebola Sudan vaccine to help with the Ebola Sudan outbreak in Uganda.
Approximately 1,100 doses of Sabin’s vaccine are now in Uganda. Another 8,500 doses will be made available to WHO on a rolling basis through January.
The WHO announced last month that Sabin’s Ebola Sudan vaccine would be one of three vaccines included in a planned ring vaccination trial in Uganda, following the recommendation of a WHO-convened independent expert committee.
Sabin also plans to supply a further 25,000 doses early next year. There is no approved vaccine for Ebola Sudan yet; the outbreak, which is now waning, began in Uganda in September and to date has killed at least 55 people.
The WHO and the Uganda Ministry of Health are co-sponsoring the Ebola Sudan vaccination trial in that country. WHO Africa says the trial will be randomized and evaluate potentially efficacious candidate vaccines that could end the outbreak and protect populations at risk in the future.
Sabin’s ChAd3 (chimpanzee adenovirus) Ebola Sudan vaccine is a single-dose vaccine and has been found to be safe and elicit rapid, robust, and durable immunity based on data from Phase 1 clinical trials and non-human primate studies.
“We feel fortunate to be part of the global response to the Ebola Sudan outbreak in Uganda,” says Sabin Chief Executive Officer Amy Finan.
“Sabin’s R&D mission centers on developing life-saving vaccines for diseases that impact people in low-and middle-income countries and as a result, have little commercial value. Sabin’s outbreak response has been a team effort — our R&D team has been at the helm working tirelessly during the last many weeks with support from our partners.”
Sabin’s ChAd3 Ebola Sudan vaccine program, including the doses being provided to WHO, is funded by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, under contract number 75A50119C00055.
Since the outbreak began, Sabin has worked closely with BARDA, the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the WHO.
Italy-based ReiThera is Sabin’s manufacturing partner for the ChAd3 Ebola Sudan vaccine. In addition to manufacturing the drug substance, ReiThera is filling and finishing the first 9,600 doses.
“Our capabilities, speed and experience to produce high-quality bulk vaccine doses express ReiThera’s commitment to support Sabin and the global health community to respond to the unfolding Ebola outbreak,” says Stefano Colloca, Chief Technology Officer and ReiThera co-founder.
In pre-clinical studies with more than 120 non-human primates, the vaccine was found to provide rapid protection that lasted for up to a year. The ChAd3 vaccine platform has been shown to be safe and well-tolerated in more than 5,000 people and has little to no pre-existing immunity.
Sabin has been developing ChAd3 vaccines for Ebola Sudan and Marburg viruses – which kill one out of every two people infected – for over three years after licensing the program from GSK in August 2019. Sabin received a multi-year contract from BARDA to continue the development of the vaccines.
Prior to 2019, the VRC conducted preclinical and clinical studies on the two vaccines. Sabin is collaborating with VRC to build on the initial data with its own studies and trials.
Planning for Sabin’s Phase 2 clinical trials for Ebola Sudan and Marburg is underway.