A man has his temperature taken using an infrared digital laser thermometer at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja. Picture: Afolabi Sotunde


Abuja -

Nigeria was set to receive the antiviral drug Favipiravir from Japan as a possible Ebola treatment, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

Favipiravir, developed by the Japanese pharmaceutical company Fujifilm Holdings Corp, was available for immediate delivery, Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said during an emergency meeting in the capital, Abuja.

The drug was approved to treat the flu by the Japanese health ministry in March. Fujifilm Holdings is in talks with the US Food and Drug Administration to begin clinical testing of Favipiravir as an Ebola treatment.

“It is shown to have strong antiviral property against the Ebola virus” in the lab and in patients, the minister said as the Ebola outbreak continues to accelerate in West Africa with the death toll now estimated at 1 552, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The Geneva-based WHO said 3 069 suspected or confirmed cases had been reported in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Enough dosages of Favipiravir to treat about 20 000 patients were available.

Nigeria also applied for the experimental Ebola drug TKM-Ebola, Chukwu said.

TKM-Ebola was tested for safety in a small number of humans, but the trial was halted in January when one volunteer developed moderate gastrointestinal side effects.

Nigeria also offered to participate in clinical trials for two Ebola vaccines, the health minister said.

In Liberia, two Ebola-infected health workers who were treated with the experimental drug ZMapp have recovered, the health ministry said Monday.

A third physician treated there with ZMapp, Abraham Dorbor, died last week.

The two doctors who recovered, a Nigerian and a Ugandan working in Liberia, had received ZMapp treatment since August 10, ministry spokesman John Sumo said. They were discharged from a treatment centre in the capital, Monrovia, at the weekend.

Two US health workers, Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who had contracted Ebola in Liberia, were discharged in mid-August from a hospital in Atlanta, where they had been treated with ZMapp.

Spanish priest Miguel Pajares, however, died from Ebola in a Madrid hospital after his evacuation from Liberia despite also receiving ZMapp.

Ebola causes massive haemorrhaging and is transmitted through contact with blood and other bodily fluids. If left untreated, it has a fatality rate of up to 90 percent. - Sapa-dpa