Strides are being made in the fight against the life-threatening Ebola epidemic which has, for the past year, plagued the populations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, reported Fides yesterday.
According to the NGO Medicines Sans Frontieres (MSF), first results of clinical tests show that the experimental anti-viral drug Favipiravir can reduce mortality in patients with low levels of the virus in the blood. Yet, the NGO warned the drug has had no effect with high viral level in persons presenting a serious form of the disease.
The present clinical testing, carried out by the French institute of research INSERM, began Dec. 17 at the MSF Ebola Centre at Guéckédou, in Guinea, where the epidemic started. Since then, it has been extended to include patients at treatment centers in Nzérékoré and Macenta.
“Our patients,” said the doctor in charge of the MSF tests, “are fully informed about the drug and the clinical tests before they decide whether or not to take part.”
So far none of the patients at Guéckédou have chosen not to participate.
Noting that we must be realistic about the outcomes, MSF nurse Julien Demeuldre in Guéckédou said, “We have seen that the treatment is effective for some patients but not for others.”
Yesterday, INSERM shared that for patients with a relatively low level of Ebola in the blood, Favipiravir can make the difference lowering the death rate by between 30 and 15 percent.
However for patients with a high viral presence and for young babies, this experimental drug is not effective. Hence, the NGO notes research must continue.
At the same time, the MSF Ebola Treatment Centre in Conakry has begun trial medication using the plasma of adult former Ebola patients now free of the virus and whose plasma contains Ebola antibodies.
Again in Guinea at the end of this month, MSF will start studying an experimental vaccine against the disease.
On the NET:
Global Ebola Response: www.ebolaresponse.un.org