The strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOTs) analyses of the Ebola virus – paper retracted
Background: Owing to the extreme virulence and case fatality rate of ebola virus disease (EVD), there had been so much furore, panic and public health emergency about the possible pandemic from the recent West African outbreak of the disease, with attendant handful research, both in the past and most recently. The magnitude of the epidemic of ebola virus disease has prompted global interest and urgency in the discovery of measures to mitigate the impact of the disease. Researchers in the academia and the industry were pressured to only focus on the development of effective and safe ebola virus vaccines, without consideration of the other aspects to this virus, which may influence the success or otherwise of a potential vaccine. The objective of this review was to adopt the SWOT concept to elucidate the biological Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats to Ebola virus as a pathogen, with a view to understanding and devising holistic strategies at combating and overcoming the scourge of EVD.
Method: This systematic review and narrative synthesis utilized Medline, PubMed, Google and other databases to select about 150 publications on ebola and ebola virus disease using text word searches to generate the specific terms. Relevant publications were reviewed and compared, findings were synthesized using a narrative method and summarized qualitatively.
Results: Some of the identified strengths of ebola virus include: Ebola virus is an RNA virus with inherent capability to mutate, reassort and recombine to generate mutant or reassortant virulent strains; Ebola virus has a broad cellular tropism; Natural Reservoir of ebola virus is unconfirmed but fruit bats, arthropods, and plants are hypothesized; Ebola virus primarily targets and selectively destroys the immune system; Ebola viruses possess accessory proteins that inhibits the host’ immune responses; Secreted glycoprotein (sGP), a truncated soluble protein that triggers immune activation and increased vascular permeability is uniquely associated with Ebola virus only; Ability to effectively cross the species barrier and establish productive infection in humans, non human primates, and other mammals; Ebola virus attacks every part of the human body; The Weaknesses include: Ebola virus transmission and persistence is severely limited by its virulence; Ebola virus essentially requires host encoded protein Niemann–Pick C1 (NPC1) for host’s cell’ entry; Ebola virus essentially requires host encoded proteins (TIM-1) for cell’ entry; Relative abundance of Ebolavirus Nucleoprotein than the other virion components; The Opportunities harnessed by ebola virus include: Lack of infection control practices in African health-care facilities and paucity of health infrastructures, especially in the endemic zones; Permissiveness of circulating Monocytes, Macrophages and dendritic cells in virus mobilization and dissemination; Collection, consumption and trade of wild games (bushmeats); Pertubation and drastic changes in forest ecosystems present opportunities for Ebola virus; Use of dogs in hunting predisposes man and animals to inter-species contact; Poverty, malnutrition, crowding, social disorder, mobility and political instability; Ease of travel and aviation as potentials for global spread; Possible mechanical transmission by arthropod vectors; No vaccines or therapeutics are yet approved for human treatment; The Threats to ebola virus include: Avoidance of direct contact with infected blood and other bodily fluids of infected patient; Appropriate and correct burial practices; Adoption of barrier Nursing; Improved surveillance to prevent potential spread of epidemic; Making Available Rapid laboratory equipment and procedures for prompt detection (ELISA, Western Blot, PCR); Sterilization or disinfection of equipment and safe disposal of instrument; Prompt hospitalization, isolation and quarantine of infected individual; Active contact tracing and monitoring, among others.
Conclusion: The identified capacities and gaps presented in this study are inexhaustive framework to combat the ebola virus. To undermine and overcome the virus, focus should be aimed at strategically decreasing the identified strengths and opportunities, while increasing on the weaknesses of, and threats to the virus.
Keywords: SWOT of Ebola virus, EVD, Bats, bush meats, Niemann-Pick, DIC, haemorrhage