WHO Calls Urgent Meeting Over Marburg Virus Outbreak

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The Facts

  • On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) convened an urgent meeting to discuss vaccine and therapeutic candidates for a newly-identified Marburg outbreak in Equatorial Guinea.

  • The Marburg virus is considered one of the world's deadliest diseases with a fatality ratio as high as 88%. Marburg has proven to be more deadly than other hemorrhagic fevers like its close cousin Ebola; the virus is transmitted from fruit bats to humans and spread through bodily fluids and contact with surfaces.

The Spin

Narrative A

While some vaccine candidates for Marburg Virus have had promising results in experimental animal trials, there is a very small window of time for these doses to be produced and deployed. Manufacturers need to hurry — time is of the essence with this extremely deadly virus.

Narrative B

While Marburg Virus is indeed an extremely deadly disease that generates alarmist headlines, the reality is that the population size of those infected is likely very small. What is more indicative is the general and problematic "spillover" of dangerous viruses from animals to humans. Outbreaks like these remind us that spillover increasingly is part of our everyday life.

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