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Expand chart
Data: DRC Ministry of Health; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon and Harry Stevens/Axios.

The Ebola outbreak simmering in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is worsening in some ways, despite major successes in combating the illness in some parts of the country.

Why it matters: The ongoing outbreak is the second-worst on record worldwide. A top official with the World Health Organization — which along with several nongovernmental organizations has been at the vanguard of the Ebola fight — said last week that it will likely continue for another six months.

  • This is despite more than 400 WHO personnel on the ground and what's been considered a successful start of a vaccination campaign there.

The big picture: The WHO has pointed to the success in reducing Ebola virus transmission in Beni, a city in conflict-ridden northeastern Congo, as an example of what can be done to combat the outbreak in other parts of the country.

However, experts say the gains in Beni, which came despite difficult circumstances, don't necessarily mean Ebola can be squelched elsewhere without a different approach or major increase in resources.

  • Right now, for example, health workers are pursuing a ring vaccination strategy, which requires tracking down every person that an Ebola patient came into contact with when they were ill, and inoculating them to stop its spread. It also requires following up with known contacts to see if they develop symptoms.
  • However, there are clear signs that circumstances are preventing contact tracing from working, including the fact that many community cases keep popping up. These are people who weren't already known to health workers.

What they're saying: “There’s still no way out of this without complete and thorough contact tracing,” says Jennifer Nuzzo, public health expert at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “It’s hard to argue against the value of the vaccine, but a vaccine alone is not going to get us out of here."

Go deeper: Axios' full Ebola coverage

Go deeper

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress sprints to meet crush of deadlines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congressional leaders have been pushing off vital action for months — and a lot of it will catch up with them in December, which begins Wednesday.

Driving the news: Funding for the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday. There are also consequential deadlines related to the debt limit, President Biden's agenda and annual actions like voting on the National Defense Authorization Act.

2 hours ago - World

U.S. fears Iran won’t scale back to 2015 nuclear deal

Officials gather in Vienna on Sept. 29 for the first day of renewed nuclear talks with Iran. Photo: EU Vienna Delegation/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

U.S. officials have extremely low expectations as world powers resume negotiations with Iran to curb its nuclear program, believing the Iranians aren't yet ready to negotiate seriously, Axios is told.

Driving the news: Senior officials in the U.S. intelligence community have assessed the new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, thinks of his predecessor, Hassan Rouhani, as a weak accommodationist who negotiated a bad deal with the U.S. and other world powers in 2015.