What to know about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa
The world is struggling to cope with an unprecedented Ebola outbreak.
But while the virus has claimed nearly 3,000 lives, the world’s top health experts have warned that it is unlikely to be contained for the long term.
The world has been fighting the disease for more than a decade, with the first cases reported in Sierra Leone in March 2014.
At the time, the US government and the international community agreed to work together to contain the outbreak, which was first identified in Guinea in December 2014.
The outbreak has spread to other parts of West Africa, including Liberia, where the World Health Organisation (WHO) says the number of confirmed cases has reached nearly 13,000.
The WHO says the outbreak has killed more than 4,000 people and displaced more than 13 million.
Its chief medical officer, Dr Mark Kelly, told the UN on Thursday that the virus is becoming increasingly resistant to the treatment options available.
“The virus is now a highly resistant strain,” he said.
“We are seeing the emergence of a new virus which is very resistant to all our treatments.”
He said the virus had not yet adapted to modern medicine and it was “unlikely” that the disease could be contained.
In Guinea, the WHO said the number the country had recorded in the past week had increased to more than 16,000 and that there were 5,600 deaths in the last week.
“This outbreak is a global health crisis, but we are in a global pandemic.
We have to address it in different ways,” said Dr Kelly.
“The Ebola virus is very complex, and we are dealing with a very, very big and complex virus.”
The WHO has warned that the number one priority should be to find a vaccine.
“Our current response strategy, which we have been using for a number of years, is to focus on vaccinating as many people as possible, and vaccinating them for a maximum of three years,” said Kelly.
“That is a strategy that we have successfully used in Guinea.”
The agency said its vaccine programme would not be able to contain or contain the virus for the foreseeable future.
“To achieve a full and complete recovery of Guinea, we must take all available measures to ensure that all available resources are available to ensure the continued recovery of the population,” the WHO added.
The latest figures from the WHO show that the global number of cases has risen to about 6,000, compared with 3,100 the previous week.
The current outbreak has brought international attention to the plight of the impoverished and vulnerable in West African countries, including the capital, Conakry.
The United Nations has been calling on the West African nations to speed up the development of the global vaccine programme, and to provide it with additional funding.
The Ebola outbreak is also raising questions about whether the current funding cycle is sustainable.
Last month, the World Bank announced a $25m injection to help finance research into Ebola vaccines, but the programme is due to run out of cash by the end of February.
The UN’s International Crisis Group (ICG) said the US and other donors were also delaying their investment pledges to help the region, and warned that there would be significant losses if they failed to do so.
“If these programmes don’t provide sufficient funds, we will lose our ability to provide necessary services to people in need,” ICG Director-General, Peter Karpeles, told Al Jazeera.