Updates on activities of Dr. Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum (The Laureate of the Third Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize for Medical Research)2022
Please also see the page of The Third Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize.
Director General of the Institut National de recherche biomédicale (INRB), National Public Health Laboratory. Full professor of Microbiology (Virology) at Kinshasa University Medical School.
I was awarded for my research to confront Ebola and other deadly viruses and efforts to train legions of disease fighters.
Activities after receiving the prize
I was appointed by the President Félix Tshisekedi Tshilombo to coordinate the national responses to both Ebola in the East of DRC (2018-2020) the new pandemic of COVID19 (2020-2022).
Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak
The 10th EVD epidemic in the DRC occurred in the provinces of North and South Kivu and Ituri, three highly populated regions plagued by armed conflicts maintained for more than 25 years by national and foreign rebel groups. This 10th outbreak was the largest (3091cases with 2074deaths) and the longest (2018-2020) in DRC. Despite the insecurity of the regions, INRB researchers in collaboration with their colleagues from NIAID/USA and other partners under the aegis of WHO, conducted a randomized, controlled clinical trial to compare the efficacy of 3 drugs (Regeneron, mAB114, Redemsivir,) versus ZMapp. Our product (mAb114), developed on the cells of a Congolese survivor from the Kikwit epidemic in 1995, has been shown to be very effective in reducing the mortality of Ebola patients to 35% compared to 67% in untreated patients. This study, conducted by a research consortium called PALM (Pamoja Tulinde Maisha=Together save lives in the Kiswahili language) was published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The 2019 David Sackett Trial of the Year was awarded to the PALM trial study.
Treatment with mAb114 increases survival of Ebola patients
In December 2020, mAb114 was approved by the FDA under the African name Ebanga, as a curative treatment for Ebola Zaïre in adults and children.
As the Co-Principal Investigator of this study, I am proud that my dream had become a reality, a crowning achievement of my career.
The first 2 recovered cases of Ebola (girls) after receiving mAb114 in Mangina, North Kivu
But there is still a mystery to be deciphered in this disease: finding the reservoir/vector of the Ebola virus. The INRB is involved in ecological research in the hope of discovering this reservoir in nature.
DRC response to COVID19 pandemic
The first case of covid19 was detected by the INRB on March 10, 2020 in a traveler from Europe. The epicenter of the pandemic was the capital city Kinshasa, mainly the western part of the city, seat of the institutions of the republic.
Poor neighborhoods were rather spared. Then the provinces were reached, especially the border provinces of the west, the east and the south.
The DRC pandemic has evolved in distinct successive waves. The Delta variant was predominant in the 2nd and 3rd waves while the highly transmissible but minimally lethal Omicron variant was the main cause of the 4th wave.
In terms of morbidity and mortality, the COVID 19 pandemic remained less severe in Africa than in Europe.
In the DRC 85 839 cases have been recorded since the start of the pandemic, with 1 335 deaths, which means a lethality of 1.5 %. But the country remains the least vaccinated in Africa with vaccination coverage of 0.3%.
National and International Recognition since 2019
- Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Lubumbashi, DRC, 2019; the Catholic University of Bukavu, DRC, 2021; the University of Antwerp, Belgium, 2020 and from the University of Harvard, USA, in May 2022.
- Named as one of Nature’s 10 personalities who mattered in Science 2019.
- Included in Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2020.
- Chairman of the Congolese Academy of Sciences, 2021.
- African Union and Africa CDC: lifetime achievement in Public Health, CPHIA 2021 Award.
- Today, EVD is preventable and curable, thanks to current approved Merck rVSV-Zebov-GP vaccine and Monoclonal antibody therapeutics including Ebanga-mAb114.
- Ebanga, the dream of my life is now a reality thanks to commitment and tenacity of Congolese scientists, the cooperation with the NIH / USA and the contribution of Congolese patients and survivors.
- COVID19 is a global threat. But the DRC is facing strong resistance of the population against Covid19 vaccination.
- The inauguration in February 2020 of BSL3 laboratories at the INRB build by JICA was crucial for the national successful response to both Ebola and COVID19 outbreaks.
New infrastructure (BSL2 and BSL3) at the INRB