Experience is a great teacher. The rapid response to the recent Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a good example of how preparation can change the trajectory of a virus’s effect on vulnerable populations. According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) most recent Ebola Situation Report, the outbreak risk level is now under control due to the rapid deployment of response and treatment teams – a mere two months after the WHO received the first EVD report on May 11, 2017.
This epidemic occurred in a rural zone with a much lower number of susceptible individuals, which made controlling it easier. Playing just as an important role in managing this outbreak were the experiences gained and the research done from the prior EVD outbreak. This epidemic in DRC also highlights the fact that we should prepare the regulations and the logistical aspects of interventions, such as vaccinations, in the inter-epidemic period, giving us the capacity for rapid implementation.
The EVD outbreak in Western Africa was a decisive element on the road to the creation of GloPID-R. Due to its severity and surprising elements, the world’s leading research funding institutions realized the need to work together to fund the vital research necessary to enhance preparedness and response to major infectious disease outbreaks.
Since its inception, GloPID-R has mobilized around the Zika virus, including activities such as hosting the “Zika Virus Research Workshop” in Sao Paulo, Brazil in December 2016. Last May, GloPID-R members quickly assembled to assess the EVD outbreak in the DRC and the possible research needs. In this case, no further action was needed due to the work already going on in the field.
However, the world knows that a next major epidemic outbreak is inevitable. When that happens, GloPID-R will certainly be at the forefront to provide the global coordination needed in research to combat infectious diseases.