A recent study tested four Ebola medicines with about 500 volunteers. Is this a breakthrough in the fight against Ebola?
Ebola was released in Congo for about a year – nearly 1,900 people died in the recent epidemic. It is the worst Ebola outbreak since the devastating wave of disease in West Africa in 2014 and 2015.
There are experimental remedies for Ebola, but it was not clear how good they were. The differences are clearly large: the WHO World Health Organization has now presented the provisional results of a recent study of about 500 volunteers. So two funds are particularly successful, the other two should no longer be used.
Progress in the fight against Ebola
Ebola cannot be safely cured with two new active ingredients – but they are as successful as any drug before. After all, about seventy percent of patients survived in the last series of tests in the Congo, a significant step forward.
The huge names REGN-EB3 and mAb114 are mixtures of virus-blocking antibodies. The antibodies are from Ebola survivors; you can now copy them to the lab.
Not all agents tested work
Two other agents, Zmapp and remdesivir, on the other hand, only managed to save about half of the patients. They were once considered a bearer of hope, but now they are no longer prescribed by the WHO.
Ebola research continues with only two new experimental tools. The final results will only be available in the fall; even publication in a scientific journal is still ongoing.
Early treatment increases the chances of recovery
Nevertheless, an important finding is already apparent: the sooner patients receive new active substances, the greater their chances of recovery. About 90 percent of patients survived if doctors injected them with antibodies within the first three days of the onset of the disease.
Population distrust of treatment
Therefore, some researchers are already talking about the breakthrough – but this hides huge obstacles in Ebola therapy in Congo. For the distrust of the population is still great; Many people avoid official treatment centers, and there are always attacks on medical staff.
In addition, bloody civil war rages in parts of the country for months, and some areas are no longer available to aid organizations.
Ebola vaccine for prevention
At least as important as new drugs is effective prevention – as the people responsible for this study point out. The already available Ebola vaccine plays a key role.
Almost 200,000 people in the Congo have already been vaccinated – especially families with a sick relative or employees in health centers. Vaccination campaigns for these particularly vulnerable citizens must continue intensively – if successful, new drugs are only needed in exceptional cases.
The Ebola virus belongs to the filovirus family. It is a rare and particularly aggressive pathogen.
The Ebola virus was discovered in the 1970s. Since then, there has been an epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Uganda and Gabon. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the 2014 epidemic in West Africa was the largest Ebola outbreak to date.
Malaria-like or flu-like symptoms
The symptoms are similar to a malaria or flu infection. Patients usually have fever, headache and muscle aches, suffering from nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
So far, mortality has depended on the virus variant at 30 to 90 percent, the "Ebola-Zaire" type between 60 and 90 percent. Those affected die of cardiovascular shock in most cases.
Monkeys and fruit bats as possible gears
Possible Ebola carriers are monkeys and fruit bats that are considered a delicacy in countries like Liberia.
Among humans, the virus is transmitted through body fluids such as sweat, blood, urine or saliva. The rule of thumb is that the stronger the symptoms, the higher the risk of infection.