Researchers have made astonishing progress in developing a drug that combats Ebola that has been seen as disease that carried an immediate death sentence. What is amazing is that the drug was put through clinical trials under extremely difficult circumstances because the disease causes widespread panic since it is so highly contagious and lethal.
Two Ebola drugs have proven so effective in a clinical trial that researchers will make the treatments available to anyone infected with the virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where Ebola has killed nearly 1,900 people over the past year.
The survival rate for people who received either drug shortly after infection, when levels of the virus in their blood were low, was 90%.
“It’s really good news,” says Sabue Mulangu, an infectious-disease researcher at the National Institute for Biomedical Research (INRB) in Kinshasa in the DRC, and an investigator on the trial. “Now we will be able to stress to people that more than 90% of people survive if they come into the [Ebola treatment unit] early and get this treatment.”
“I’m in awe about what seemed to be an impossible clinical trial to run,” says Sumathi Sivapalasingam, a senior director at Regeneron. “The team did this in such a complex emergency and still, the data quality is exceptional.”
The benefits of this drug are enormous, not least because it will also help to protect those health workers who run great risks in treating the infected.