Two Ebola drugs found to increase survival rates: health officials

Grant Boone
August 13, 2019

All of Congo's Ebola treatment units have access to the two drugs, he added, saying he was hopeful that the news would persuade more patients to seek care - as soon as symptoms appear. The other two less effective drugs - ZMapp and Remdesivir - showed respective mortality rates of 49% and 53% and will not be used for treatment.

Scientists say the results are very good news for the fight against Ebola as the news marks a first for people who already have been infected.

The unavailability of treatment in the affected regions has only led to controversies as some have been calling for experimental drugs to be made available in Africa, while many others have warned against its use.

Ebola has been spreading in eastern Congo since August 2018 in an outbreak that has now become the second largest, killing at least 1,800 people.

Patients were enrolled at four Ebola Treatment Centers (ETCs) in Beni, Katwa, Butembo and Mangina. Researchers administered one of four drugs to patients who had participated in the study, and when a monitoring group they noticed that two of those drugs were vastly outperforming the others. The epidemic has been declared a public health emergency of global concern by the World Health Organization.

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Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, a Congolese doctor who has spent his career researching Ebola treatments and oversaw the trial on the ground, told a news conference that he could not have imagined such a day would come.

The study dubbed Pamoja Tulinde Maisha (PALM [together save lives]) is a randomized, controlled trial of four investigational agents (ZMapp, remdesivir, mAb114 and REGN-EB3) for the treatment of patients with Ebola. However, the disease has recently reached Goma, a city of 2 million people on the border with Rwanda. "You can get ethically sound and scientifically sound information rapidly", Fauci said. In addition to limiting future patient randomizations to REGN-EB3 and mAb114, patients who were randomized to ZMapp or remdesivir in the last 10 days now have the option, at the discretion of their treating physician, to receive either REGN-EB3 or mAb114.

The NIH, Democratic Republic of Congo health authorities and the World Health Organization hailed the 'extraordinary team of individuals who have worked under extremely hard conditions to carry out this study, ' as well as the patients and their families. Tedros Ghebreyesus, the WHO director general, said last month that more than 200 health professionals had been attacked since January and several had been killed.

Mike Ryan, head of the WHO's emergencies program, said the trial's positive findings were encouraging but would not be enough on their own to bring the epidemic to an end.

The current outbreak in eastern DR Congo began in August past year and is the biggest of the 10 to hit the country since 1976, when the virus was first discovered.

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