The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that, following success from the early response and as no new cases have been recorded in recent weeks, it considers the outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo to pose only a low risk now as it has largely been contained.
Just a month ago the WHO was warning of the still “significant risk” that the outbreak of Ebola in the Congo could spread to neighbouring countries, as the number of confirmed cases was still rising.
The outbreak of the deadly disease brought the World Bank issued pandemic catastrophe bonds and swaps into focus again, as they cover Ebola outbreaks as a peril.
But the response has been swift and now the risk posed by the Ebola outbreak, both locally and globally, has been deemed low again by the WHO as the outbreak appears largely contained.
As we explained back in May, the outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo had the potential to become a qualifying or eligible event under the terms of the coverage provided by the Class B tranches of pandemic swaps and catastrophe bonds that were issued through the PEF transaction by the World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) in 2017.
The response by the international community to stem the spread of the Congo Ebola outbreak was significant though, with the World Bank itself activating its Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) cash window, to make its first cash disbursement, providing a $12 million grant to assist in stemming the Ebola virus outbreak.
It seems those efforts have been successful, as medical supplies, vaccines and aid flowed into the country and region to assist in containing the Ebola virus outbreak.
Now, the WHO reports that no confirmed cases have been found for more than twenty-four days.
“The latest assessment concluded that the current Ebola virus disease outbreak has largely been contained, considering that over 21 days (one maximum incubation period) have elapsed since the last laboratory-confirmed case was discharged and that contact tracing activities ended on 27 June 2018,” the WHO explained.
However, despite the clear improvement to the outlook for the region, the WHO said, “Before the outbreak can be declared over, a period of 42 days (two incubation periods) following the last possible exposure to a confirmed case must elapse without any new confirmed cases being detected. Until this milestone is reached, it is critical to maintain all key response pillars, including intensive surveillance to rapidly detect and respond to any resurgence. ”
But, the agency says, “In the absence of ongoing transmission, the probability of exported cases is low and diminishing, and has been further mitigated by the undertaking of preparedness activities and establishment of contingency plans in neighbouring countries. WHO has assessed the public health risk to be low at the regional and global levels.”
So at this stage it appears that the threat to the World Bank supported parametric pandemic cat bonds has diminished significantly and while there is always a threat of disease resurgence, the rapid response and deployment of capital and medical supplies and people does seem to have been effective in stemming the outbreak this time around.