After 2 Cases, Uganda Approves Use of 3 Experimental Ebola Treatments

Since August 2018, more than 1,411 people have died from Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. After the disease spread over the border, Uganda authorities approved the use of three experimental Ebola treatments.

Last week, two people from Congo who traveled to Uganda died, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Happy to inform you all that we got clearance from both Uganda National Council for Science and Technology and National Drug Authority to bring in the Therapeutic treatment for #Ebola patients in the country,” tweeted Uganda’s Health Minister, Jane Ruth Aceng.

The three treatments are Mapp Biopharmaceutical’s ZMapp, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ REGN-EB3, and Gilead Sciences’ Remdesivir.

ZMapp was created via a collaboration between Mapp Biopharmaceutical, LeafBio in San Diego, Defyrus, in Toronto, Canada, the U.S. government and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). It is made up of three humanized monoclonal antibodies and is manufactured in the tobacco plant, Nicotiana.

Regeneron’s experimental Ebola treatment also combines three fully-human monoclonal antibodies. The company reported in May 2018 that it was shipping the therapeutic to the Democratic Republic of Congo, which was one of three being evaluated by a panel of independent experts brought together by the WHO.

Gilead’s drug came out of collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) begun in 2014. It is a prodrug that is processed in the body to crease an active drug. The drug is believed to work by blocking a key enzyme the Ebola virus needs for replication.

A WHO spokesman, Tarik Jasarevic, told Reuters, “The protocols for the fourth are being submitted. Logistics are underway with MSF support for important of a few courses about 10 each.”

So far, there have been no reports of Ebola being transmitted between people in Uganda. They have all been cases of patients who traveled into the country from Congo.

On Friday, a WHO panel decided that it would not declare an international emergency in Uganda, stating that doing so could cause too much economic damage. “Obviously, the crisis is far from over,” stated Mark Green, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

On Saturday, health workers and anyone who came in contact with infected individuals in Uganda were given an experimental vaccine manufactured by Merck.

In May, WHO indicated it was running low on the Merck Ebola vaccine in Congo and was providing smaller vaccine doses and planned to use an experimental drug from Johnson & Johnson. Since August 2018, WHO indicates that 11,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been vaccinated, but new cases continue to be diagnosed.

AP reported today that Kenya, to date, is free of Ebola cases. A woman had been suspected of having the disease, but further tests were negative for Ebola and other hemorrhagic fevers, according to Kenya’s Health Minister Sicily Kariuki. The suspected woman had recently traveled on the Kenya-Uganda border. The woman remains in isolation.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking in Kamapala, the Ugandan capital, on Monday, said, “From our side, I would like to pledge that we will continue mobilizing global and regional support to control this outbreak as soon as possible. It is not clean until the outbreak in (Congo) is finished.”

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