Ebola: Congo approves test drugs from WHO

The death of Ebola

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has approved the use of five investigational therapeutics to treat Ebola Virus Disease, marking the first time such treatments would be available in the midst of an Ebola outbreak in the country, the World Health Organization said.

A new case was discovered in the health zone known as Iboko - symptoms started June 2 - bringing the overall tally to 62 confirmed or suspected cases and 27 deaths.

Since the launch of the vaccination program on May 21, 1,826 people have been vaccinated, the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo reported Wednesday.

Ebola is back. The disease that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa just a few years ago has returned, striking the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

"We are cautiously optimistic, but there is a lot of very tough work to do to be able say we are on top of the outbreak", Salama said.

"There's been very strong progress in the outbreak response, particularly in relation to two of the initial three sites: Mbandaka and Bikoro", he said. This is the DRC's ninth Ebola outbreak since 1976 when the hemorrhagic fever was first identified.

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Salama's optimism arises from the fact that there have been no new reports of illness in Mbandaka, the Equateur province capital, which boasts a population of 1.2 million. The newest confirmed case is in rural Iboko and is linked to a probable Ebola death on May 20, the ministry said. "And then if there is a confirmation of a case, every contact of those cases", he explained. "We've reached the majority of contacts - more than 98% - with vaccination. and we believe these contacts are now protected against Ebola", he said.

The disease, which is transmitted by direct contact with the blood and body fluids of infected people or animals, causes severe bleeding and can have a mortality rate of 90%.

He warned, however, that experts are not in a position to document all chains of transmission of the virus, so "there may still yet be unknown chains out there and there may still be surprises in this outbreak".

"It's clearly very hard to evaluate efficacy of Ebola products in outbreaks", said Moorthy, who said scientists rely on efficacy data derived from experiments in non-human primates (monkey models).

However, the Congolese government is considering other experimental treatments that it is evaluating for use.

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