Two of four potential drug candidates found to cure disease, says WHO
Two of four experimental drugs being tested for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) can cure the disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on August 12, 2019.
EVD has claimed 1,866 lives in the DRC since August 1, 2018. As many as 2,781 EVD cases have been reported till date.
A trial of four investigational agents (ZMapp, remdesivir, mAb114 and REGN-EB3) for the treatment of patients with EVD began in November 20, 2018, in the DRC as part of the emergency response to an ongoing Ebola outbreak in the North Kivu and Ituri Provinces.
“The preliminary results in 499 study participants indicated that those individuals receiving REGN-EB3 or mAb114 had a greater chance of survival compared to those participants in the other two arms,” a WHO press communique said.
It added that the final analysis of the data could occur only after all data had been generated and collected (likely in late September/early October 2019).
The trial was a multi-agency and multi-country project involving the DRC’s Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB), the United States’ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Alliance for International Medical Action, Médecins Sans Frontières, the International Medical Corps and other organisations.
“The overall mortality of those given ZMapp in the trial in four centres was 49 per cent while that of Remdesivir was 53 per cent. A three-antibody drug made by Regeneron (REGN-EB3) had the lowest overall death rate, at 29 per cent, while the monoclonal antibody 114 (mAb114) made by Ridgeback Biotherapeutics had a mortality rate of 34 per cent,” Anthony Fauci, the director of NIAID told Reuters.
Giving an interview to the BBC, Jean-Jacques Muyembe, director general of INRB, also known as Ebola Hunter to the world, said, “This drug is a monoclonal antibody. It will neutralise the virus so the symptom will disappear. And the symptom will disappear in one hour. It is an intravenous injection,” he said. But he clarified that it will not created immunity against the virus once and for all. It will merely treat the disease.
Meanwhile, the situation remains tense in the DRC. The last update on the state of the affairs in the DRC issued by WHO on August 8, 2019 said: “The last assessment concluded that the national and regional risk levels remain very high, while global risk levels remain low.”
It added: “The report of confirmed cases and local transmission in Goma, capital of North Kivu, with a population of over two million inhabitants, highlights the potential of spread within the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to neighbouring countries.”
The update also highlighted that challenges in accessing the patients in a few communities due to ongoing civil violence, not-so-good surveillance of the people who came in the contact of the known EVD cases, nosocomial infection (infections caused in healthcare facilities) and delays in case detection were proving to be major stumbling blocks.
Stressing on the ongoing violence, the WHO said that due to it, the EVD operations had also to be temporarily suspended in few areas.
Of the total confirmed and probable cases, 56 per cent (1,572) were female, and 28 per cent (791) were children aged less than 18 years.
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