Tuesday, 12 November, 2019

Ebola drugs trial shows '90pc survival rate'

A man receives a vaccine against Ebola from a nurse outside the Afia Himbi Health Centre New Ebola Vaccine Introduced in DRC
Anna Jefferson | 13 August, 2019, 18:12

"A long-running outbreak like this takes its awful toll on the affected communities, and it's a sign of just how challenging it has been to control this epidemic that there have been sufficient number of patients treated for telling us more about these four drugs' efficacy", said director of the Wellcome Trust, Dr. Jeremy Farrar.

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.

A clinical trial evaluating 4 experimental therapeutics for Ebola virus disease has been halted after an independent data and safety monitoring board determined 2 of the therapies were linked with better rates of survival.

The treatments are now going to be offered to all patients in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The randomized, multicenter, controlled trial was created to evaluate the safety and efficacy of 3 antibody-based investigational agents for the treatment of Ebola: REGN-EB3, ZMapp, and mAb114, and 1 small molecule antiviral remdesivir.

NIAID director, Dr Anthony Fauci, said they are the "first drugs that in a scientifically sound study have clearly shown a significant diminution in mortality" for Ebola patients.

Hospital staff carry a coffin containing the body of an Italian nun who died from the deadly Ebola virus to the cemetery in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of the Congo, on May 14, 1995.

The World Health Organization has chose to narrow an experiment with Ebola patients to two treatments that show real promise.

What were the results of the trial?

The drugs, tested in a almost nine-month clinical trial, have performed so well that health professionals will now administer them to every patient in Congo.

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The two "good" drugs are REGN-EB3 and mAb114.

In contrast, 49% on ZMapp and 53% on Remdesivir died in the study, the agency said.

They saved about 90 percent of patients with low levels of infection, according to preliminary data released from the trial.

"What this means is that we do now have what look like (two) treatments for a disease for which not long ago we really had no approach at all", he said.

What impact could the drugs have?

Jeremy Farrar, Wellcome Trust director, said the new treatment would "undoubtedly save lives". Active case finding, contact tracing, and community acceptance of these teams are vital to ending the outbreak. A vaccine is a type of medicine that improves immunity to a particular disease, as a preventative measure.

Ebola analysts, including the World Health Organisation's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE), have repeatedly called for the Janssen vaccine to be introduced in Congo to maximize the number of people protected from the virus.

How serious is the DR Congo outbreak?

Patients were enrolled at four Ebola Treatment Centers (ETCs) in Beni, Katwa, Butembo and Mangina.

A vast Ebola outbreak in West Africa from 2013 to 2016 became the world's largest ever when it spread through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and killed more than 11,300 people.

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