June 25, 2020
HHS Secretary Azar Statement on End of Eastern DRC Ebola Outbreak
On June 25, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Ministry of Health officially announced the end of the Ebola outbreak in the eastern DRC that has been ongoing since August 2018. HHS Secretary Alex Azar issued the following statement:
“President Trump’s administration made ending the Ebola outbreak in the eastern DRC one of America’s top global health priorities. We congratulate the Congolese government and all of our partners on bringing the outbreak to an end. Above all, the victory is a credit to the heroic Congolese healthcare workers and community members on the ground, some of whom I had the chance to meet and thank in person this past fall. The United States provided more support for the Ebola response than any other nation and pushed for focusing international actors’ attention on the outbreak. We invested in the DRC’s public health capabilities for years and supported experimental therapeutics and a now-FDA-approved vaccine. The new Ebola outbreak in western DRC is a reminder that we must stay vigilant against this virus and all infectious threats that can cross borders. The United States was there to help the people of the DRC long before Ebola, and we will be there as partners long after this threat recedes.”
Background on U.S. Efforts to End the Ebola Outbreak
- Since August 2018, the United States Government (USG) has provided in-kind assistance and financial support through established response partners, totaling nearly $600 million as of May 2020.
- Through the United States Agency for International Development, the USG has provided more than $340 million to support Ebola preparedness and response efforts in the DRC since Fiscal Year 2018.
- The U.S. Department of State provides robust support in Washington and on the ground in the DRC to facilitate response efforts. For example, U.S. Embassy Kinshasa served as the platform from which U.S. government Departments and Agencies were able to operate in-country. The U.S. Department of State is also supporting upgrades to the DRC’s Institut National de la Recherche Biomédicale (INRB) facilities towards the development of a secure biorepository, and, in collaboration with the U.S. National Institutes of Health, will ensure training and equipping efforts to complete inventory of Ebola samples that will be stored in the biorepository.
- HHS mobilized a Department-wide initiative to support the Ebola response efforts in the DRC. HHS, through the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), helped develop and deploy medical countermeasures (MCM) to prevent, treat, and test for the Ebola virus, alongside efforts in the DRC and neighboring countries by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- ASPR obligated about $192.4 million through the end of FY 2019 in support of the Ebola outbreak. The total estimated obligations are not exclusive to DRC but have been in support of this entire response. Within ASPR, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) continues to support the development of three therapeutics, two vaccines, and one rapid diagnostic test related to Ebola. The totality of previous investments under advanced research and development and Project BioShield have supported the ability to make these products available for the outbreak in the DRC. BARDA made products available in the DRC under compassionate use, clinical trial, or the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID)-sponsored randomized clinical trial. BARDA also made medical countermeasures available in the DRC to support identification of the virus in deceased individuals in order to support safe and dignified burials.
- FDA obligated approximately $8 million in support of the Ebola outbreak response efforts through the end of FY 2019. With this funding, FDA’s primary roles in responding to the Ebola outbreak in DRC include: (1) working closely with medical product sponsors, U.S. government agencies, and regulatory counterparts abroad to help move candidate medical products forward in development as quickly as possible; (2) facilitating access to available medical countermeasures through appropriate regulatory mechanisms; and (3) protecting consumers from unsafe, ineffective, or poor quality medical products. In December 2019, the FDA announced the first FDA-approved vaccine for the prevention of Ebola virus disease (EVD) caused by Zaire ebolavirus in individuals 18 years of age and older. Because of the public health importance of a vaccine to prevent EVD, the FDA worked closely with the company and completed its evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of this BARDA-supported vaccine, Ervebo, in less than six months.
- NIH obligated about $21 million in support of the Ebola outbreak response in FY 2018 and FY 2019. NIAID, a component of NIH, worked with DRC, WHO, and medical humanitarian organizations to conduct a randomized, controlled clinical trial (RCT) assessing four investigational Ebola therapeutics. The trial enrolled 681 people from November 2018 through August 2019. As reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, the trial found that the investigational treatments mAb114 and REGN-EB3 offer patients an increased chance of survival from Ebola compared to ZMapp.
- CDC obligated approximately $36.7 million in support of the Ebola outbreak response in FY 2018 and FY 2019. Since the Ebola outbreak was first announced in August 2018, CDC has been directly supporting the response by providing public health response expertise, including in disease surveillance, contact tracing, infection prevention and control, vaccination, case investigation and management, safe and dignified burials, laboratory testing, community engagement and social mobilization, risk communication and health education, behavioral science, laboratory testing, border health, data management, and logistics. CDC deployed 404 staff in 676 deployments for preparedness and response efforts.
Read an op-ed by Secretary Azar, CDC Director Robert Redfield, and NIAID Director Anthony Fauci regarding their travel to the DRC and neighboring countries in September 2019: https://www.hhs.gov/about/leadership/secretary/op-eds/on-front-lines-trump-administrations-ebola-response.html