WHO Calls Urgent Meeting Over Marburg Virus Outbreak

    WHO Calls Urgent Meeting Over Marburg Virus Outbreak
    Last updated Feb 15, 2023
    Image credit: cbs


    • 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.[1]
    • 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.[2]
    • Health officials in Equatorial Guinea have confirmed at least nine deaths, 16 suspected cases that have been quarantined, and 15 contacts of infected persons who remain asymptomatic.[3]
    • Experts at the WHO meeting identified five promising vaccines. Of the five vaccine developers, three committed to making doses available for the current outbreak — Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Public Health Vaccines, and the Sabin Vaccine Institute.[3]
    • A regional health official in Cameroon said the country identified two suspected cases Monday in an area bordering Equatorial Guinea but there have been no confirmed cases in either Cameroon or Gabon.[4]
    • Before this outbreak, the most recent Marburg outbreak occurred in Ghana in July 2022 and resulted in three cases, two of which were fatal. Guinea also reported one Marburg-related death in 2021.[3]


    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.

    Articles on this story

    Sign up to our newsletter!