Ebola Lessons for Fighting COVID-19
The Democratic Republic of Congo will soon pass a milestone marking its success in the fight against Ebola. As Africa braces for COVID-19, one lesson from the DRC is that the best hope for defeating the coronavirus is not social distancing, but a vaccine that is distributed equitably.
CAMBRIDGE – On April 12, the Democratic Republic of the Congo will mark 42 days since the last person who tested positive for Ebola was discharged from the hospital.
The date is a significant milestone. It refers to twice the maximum incubation period – 21 days – of the virus, which is how the World Health Organization stipulates when an outbreak is over. If all goes well, it will be a remarkable turnaround for the DRC and a testament to the bravery and dedication of health workers, some of whom lost their lives treating the sick.
The DRC’s success in combating Ebola was overshadowed by the fact that, during that fight, approximately twice as many people died from a preventable measles outbreak. One essential lesson for policymakers grappling with the greatest global health crisis in a century is that they must do everything in their power to prevent overstretched health systems from battling two epidemics simultaneously.