Health workers wearing protective gear check on a patient isolated in a plastic cube at an Ebola treatment centre in Beni, Congo. Picture: AP
Health workers wearing protective gear check on a patient isolated in a plastic cube at an Ebola treatment centre in Beni, Congo. Picture: AP

Hope is on the horizon as two Ebola treatment drugs show promise

By DPA reporter Time of article published Aug 13, 2019

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New York - Two of four Ebola treatment drugs have been determined "more effective" than the others and will be the only ones used on patients going forward, the World Health Organisation announced on Monday.

In a multi-drug randomised trial that began as a part of the emergency response in the Democratic Republic of Congo on November 20, 2018, two of the four Ebola treatment drugs were determined more effective in treating patients than others, the WHO said. The trial was called the Pamoja Tulinde Maisha study.

ZMapp, remdesivir, mAb114 and REGN-EB3 were the four drugs used in the trials. During trials, REGN-EB3 and mAb114 were determined to be more effective in treating Ebola than the other two, and will be the only two used going forward, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced.

As part of an emergency response team in the Congo, the "Together Save Lives" trial was done with a collaboration of organisations, including the Congo's National Institute for Biomedical Research, the Ministry of Health, the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Alliance for International Medical Action and other organisations.

Although the final analysis of data will be completed in late September or early October of this year, the NIAID said the effectiveness of REGN-EB3 and mAb114 was "compelling enough to recommend and implement" the changes immediately. The other two treatments, ZMapp and remdesivir, will no longer be used.

About 681 patients were enrolled in the trial as of August 9, 2019, with a total aim of 725 patients, the NIAID said.

Ebola is a virus that is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids of someone who is ill with the virus or died from it, or through blood, body fluids or tissues of infected fruit bats or primates, the CDC states.

Symptoms, including fever, muscle pain, fatigue, vomiting, severe headache, weakness, diarrhea, abdominal pain or unexplained hemorrhaging, occur within two to 21 days of coming in contact with the virus. Currently, there is no approved vaccine or treatment for the virus, so prevention is crucial, the CDC states.

Trials like "Together Save Lives" have been introduced in areas like the Congo during outbreaks to test what treatments may be most effective for infected patients.

Just under a month ago, the Ebola outbreak in Congo was declared a global health emergency. As of August 6, 2019, there have been 2 781 reported cases of Ebola in the country, according to the WHO. There have been 1,866 reported deaths as a result of the virus.


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