Ebola survivors reunited with family in DR Congo

A girl receives a vaccine against Ebola from a nurse in Goma

Four drugs have been tried on patients in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where there's a major outbreak of the virus.

According to the United Nations health agency, two out of the four drugs being tested are more effective in treating Ebola.

"REGN-EB3 is a 3-antibody cocktail designed with the goal of enhancing efficacy, reducing the development of viral sequences that lead to resistance, and increasing potential utility in future outbreaks as viruses continually evolve", Christos Kyratsous, PhD, vice president of research, infectious diseases and viral vector technologies at Regeneron, said in a press release.

Ebola has been spreading in eastern DRC since August 2018 in an outbreak that has now become the second largest, killing at least 1 800 people.

Now a trial of new therapies has saved roughly 90 per cent of the patients who received them early in the course of infection.

The Ebola patients who will take these two drugs in the future will be enrolled in an extended study to give scientists a chance to see if one works better than the other.

Anthony Fauci, one of the researchers co-leading the trial, and the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told reporters in a telebriefing the results were "very good news" for the fight against Ebola.

The Congo treatment trial, which began in November previous year, is being carried out by an worldwide research group coordinated by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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REGN-EB3, mAb114 and Zmapp are monoclonal antibodies that bind to glycoprotein on the Ebola virus and neutralize its ability to infect other cells. The average mortality rate for Ebola has been about 50 percent, according to the WHO.

"This underscores the importance of doing randomised, controlled trials".

The two monoclonal antibodies outperformed Mapp's ZMapp and Gilead's remdesivir in the trial, with REGN-EB3 eliciting the lowest overall death rate - at 29% - while mAb114 achieved a mortality rate of 34%. "You can get ethically sound and scientifically sound information rapidly", he said.

"Getting people into care more quickly is absolutely vital", Ryan said.

He said medical professionals on the ground in Congo have sufficient stores of both drugs to administer them to all infected people.

A health worker fills a syringe with Ebola vaccine before injecting it to a patient, in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Aug. 5, 2019. Tedros Ghebreyesus, the WHO director general, said last month that more than 200 health professionals had been attacked since January and several had been killed. Violence continues to mar the efforts of vaccination providers trying to contain the spread of Ebola, as political unrest, armed conflict, and social upheaval spreads across eastern Congo.

The current outbreak in eastern DR Congo began in August previous year and is the biggest of the 10 to hit the country since 1976, when the virus was first discovered.

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