2 New Ebola Treatments Have Saved 90 Percent Of Patients Who Received Them Early In Congo

Written by Peter Pedroncelli
In this Tuesday, July 16, 2019 photo, health workers dressed in protective gear begin their shift at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, Congo DRC. (AP Photo – Jerome Delay)

Two new experimental treatments for Ebola could be the turning point for the fight against the latest epidemic in West Africa.

Ebola researchers in the Democratic Republic of Congo say that two new therapies have saved roughly 90 percent of the patients who received them early in the course of infection, according to The New York Times.

The effectiveness of the treatments means that other trials have been stopped and all patients in the country will now be offered the life-saving antibody-based therapy.

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These successful trials are revolutionary as there has been no previously known cure for the often-fatal hemorrhagic fever and such high rates of effective treatment in patients have been unheard of, Time reports.

The latest Ebola epidemic, which was declared a public health emergency in July, has infected around 2,800 known patients, killing more than 1,800 of them for a fatality rate of around 67 percent, according to the World Health Organization.

A successful Ebola trial

The new effective treatments are REGN-EB3 from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in New York, and mAb-114, which was developed by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and licensed to Miami-based Ridgeback Biotherapeutics for production.

These two treatments were developed using antibodies harvested from survivors of Ebola before being infused intravenously into the blood.

The initial trial, which began in November 2018, enrolled 681 patients at four sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo with four separate therapies tested, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Mapp Biopharmaceutical’s ZMapp and remdesivir from Gilead Sciences have since been dropped in favor of the two highly effective treatments from Regeneron and Ridgeback, The New York Times reports.

Tracking and treating the Ebola virus in West Africa has been a much bigger challenge than originally anticipated, as the rural population in previously affected countries including Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia often mistrust foreign doctors and they failed to follow their advice.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, fear of the virus and mistrust of health workers have been major obstacles to combating Ebola’s spread, according to Statnews.

Terrified families often hide those who are sick and even attack health and burial teams out of fear.

With the 90 percent success rate, the World Health Organization and charities contributing support during the epidemic are hopeful that those infected will come forward more willingly to be treated when news spreads of the success of the new therapies.