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WHO is pushing ahead with two Ebola treatments found to increase survival rates – International News News – Report by AFR

The World Health Organization said Friday that two existing treatments drastically reduced deaths from Ebola and should be given to people of all ages suffering from the often-fatal hemorrhagic disease.

The UN health agency released its first-ever Ebola therapeutics guidelines and strongly recommended the use of two monoclonal antibodies, mAb114, also known as ansuvimab or ebanga, and REGN-EB3 or inmazeb.

Studies have shown that the two treatments “significantly reduced mortality,” Janet Diaz, head of the clinical management unit at WHO’s health emergencies program, told reporters in Geneva.

Depending on the standard of care, between 230 and 400 lives could be saved for every 1,000 people infected, she said.

In its guidelines, the WHO recommended not using other therapeutics that have been tested for Ebola, including the monoclonal antibody ZMapp and the antiviral drug remdesivir.

Ebola is an often fatal viral hemorrhagic fever first identified in Central Africa in 1976. The disease was named after a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo, then known as Zaire.

The worst epidemic in West Africa between 2013 and 2016 killed more than 11,300 people. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has had more than a dozen epidemics, the deadliest of which killed 2,280 people in 2020.

Mortality rates for the disease, which spreads through bodily fluids and causes high fever, vomiting, and bleeding, can be as high as 80-90 percent, depending on how quickly it’s recognized and treated.

The WHO said mAb114 and REGN-EB3 should be given quickly to anyone who contracts the virus.

In a statement, the health agency said the two had “demonstrated clear benefit” and could be used for anyone infected with Ebola, including the elderly, pregnant and lactating women, children and newborns.

“Patients should receive the recommended neutralizing monoclonal antibodies as soon as possible after confirmation of the diagnosis in the laboratory,” it said.

However, the WHO warned that access to both treatments “remains challenging, particularly in resource-poor areas”.

“WHO stands ready to support countries, manufacturers and partners to improve access to these treatments and to support national and global efforts to increase affordability,” the UN health agency said.

Robert Fowler of the University of Toronto, co-chair of the guideline development group, praised how “advancements in supportive care and therapy over the past decade have revolutionized the treatment of Ebola.”

“Ebola virus disease used to be considered a near-certain killer. However, that is no longer the case,” he said in the statement.

Combined with the right support, the two recommended treatments mean “recovery for the vast majority of people,” he said.

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