The threat of the next viral epidemic is always looming, and it is often hard to tell where the next attack will come from. In the last couple of months, an outbreak of Yellow Fever in Angola and surrounding countries seems to be spreading unchecked and causing alarm in global health professionals. As of this month, there were 2023 reported cases of Yellow Fever in Angola, and 258 deaths. Cases linked to the Angola outbreak have been reported in Uganda, Kenya, Peru and China, indicating a global spread of the disease linked to travel.
Global health professionals are becoming more alarmed as the numbers increase, and are lamenting the lack of international and WHO response to the epidemic in a way reminiscent of the early stages of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Although a vaccine exists for Yellow Fever, there is a severe shortage of supply. Experts are recommending that the WHO convene with vaccine manufacturers to increase production to control the outbreak, or declare a state of emergency usage of vaccines that allows lower dose vaccines to be used if there aren’t enough full doses to go around.
Only time will tell if this Yellow Fever outbreak will rise to the same levels of severity as Ebola, but the similarities are striking. It is even more alarming that this is happening for a disease with a known (and famous) vaccine. Hopefully, we are able to learn from our botched response to Ebola to prevent the same disaster from happening in Angola.