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Expand chart
Data: Ministry of Health DRC; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

U.S. health officials may soon start trials in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to test the efficacy of different Ebola treatments if they get the necessary approvals, Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tells Axios.

Why it matters: The combination of violence against health care workers and the deadly virus caused the head of the Centers for Disease Control to issue a warning earlier this week that Ebola could become "endemic" to Congo. The only potential bright spot to a such a devastating outbreak would be testing experimental treatments to help indicate which ones actually work best, Fauci says.

Driving the news: Four treatments — ZMapp, mAb114, remdesivir (GS-5734), and REGN-EB3 (REGN3470-3471-3479) — are currently under consideration for trials in the DRC, with the hope of beginning as soon as next week if they get approval, Fauci says.

  • U.S. public health officials are in the DRC capital of Kinsasha, training medical personnel to prepare for the trials, which have not been finalized yet.

Details of outbreak: Fauci says the worry is that the outbreak could be long-term until the DRC becomes more secure, and public health officials can successfully conduct the ring vaccination, quarantine and treatment procedures needed to contain and eradicate the disease.

  • The DRC Ministry of Health reports a mix of success from community outreach efforts and continued episodes of violence, such as when a team of 3 civil protection agents and 1 epidemiologist were taken hostage by rebels this week at the village of Matembo, which is between Beni and Butembo.
  • But, the World Health Organization said Thursday they are seeing a positive impact from measures being taken there.

Other developments: The Food and Drug Administration announced Friday it issued the emergency use authorization (EUA) of a rapid, single-use test for detection of the Zaire Ebola virus, which is the current strain in DRC.

  • The test, called DPP Ebola Antigen System, is the second Ebola rapid antigen fingerstick test available under EUA. But it's the first that uses a portable battery-operated reader, which could make it ideal for on-the-ground testing during outbreaks.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Biden confronts mounting humanitarian crisis at the border

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Pool/Getty Images     

Just over a month into his presidency, President Biden is staring down a mounting crisis at the border that could be just as bad as the ones faced by Barack Obama and Donald Trump, if not worse.

Why it matters: Immigration is an issue that can consume a presidency. It's intensely and poisonously partisan. It's complicated. And the lives and welfare of vulnerable children hang in the balance.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The rise of vaccine passports

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Vaccine passports were touted early in the pandemic as an important piece of the plan to get people back to normal life. Now they’re becoming a reality.

Driving the news: CLEAR, the secure digital identity app that you see in airports around the world, and CommonPass, a health app that lets users securely access vaccination records and COVID test results, have joined forces.

"Vaccine tourism" stretches states' supplies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans who are highly motivated to get vaccinated are traveling across state lines after hearing about larger vaccine supplies or loopholes in sign-up systems.

Why it matters: "Vaccine tourism" raises ethical and legal questions, and could worsen the racial socioeconomic and racial inequalities of the pandemic.

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