Scientists and doctors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have made a major breakthrough in the treatment of Ebola, killing at least 1,800 people in the country. With the help of a drug that is currently being tested, it is also treatable.
For those who refuse treatment, the mortality rate is more than 75%.
Health teams have conducted a clinical trial of several potential drugs in the face of all the chaos and violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has been facing the outbreak of deadly Ebola for a year. This is the second worst Ebola outbreak in history. More than 2,800 people have been infected in North Kivu since August last year, of whom 1,794 were reported dead, but the exact number is sure to be even higher.
There is currently neither a vaccine nor an approved cure for Ebola, so the prevention of the disease remains crucial. Other vaccines are currently being tested.
Scientists with experimental Ebola vaccines are getting more encouraging results, but the cure for infected patients remains an unattainable holy grail to help thousands of patients. Until recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced yesterday that it had finally reached a breakthrough, as results from clinical trials show that two experimental drugs significantly increase the chance of surviving infection with this deadly virus. "From now on, we no longer say that Ebola is incurable." – he said Jean-Jacques Muembé, Director-General of the National Institute for Biomedical Research (INRB) in Congo. The best-performing REGN-EB3 was developed by US pharmaceutical company Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., but the field test is monitored by INRB.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is fighting the second worst ebola outbreak in history.
Four outpatient clinics in the eastern part of the country have tested three experimental drugs and ZMapp since November last year, which is still considered the standard in Ebola treatment. ZMapp has been clinically tested during the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa and a new clinical trial is envisioned to determine if any of the new experimental drugs can produce better results. The first doctors (681 patients) were so surprised and impressed by the participating doctors and scientists that they stopped the trial now. While the death rate from drugs was MAPP 49% (for untreated and inpatients exceeding 60%), this dropped to 29% for REGN-EB3. Only slightly worse was mAb114, with a mortality rate of 34%. In patients who start treatment relatively soon after infection, the results are even better; in the case of REGN-EB3 treatment, mortality drops to only 6 percent.
From now on, they will be treated with new medicines.
The WHO has announced that it will immediately launch a new clinical trial comparing only REGN-EB3 and mAb114, developed by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). At the same time, all medical teams in the outbreak area will treat these two drugs exclusively. This success can encourage other infected people who have previously denied it to start treatment. By this time, two-thirds of people who contracted Ebola at the last outbreak had died in the Congo. The widespread violence in the country is also a major problem in managing the epidemic. According to experts, infection control, monitoring and prevention must also be significantly improved to curb the epidemic.