Tag Archives: Zmapp

USE THE BLOOD OF EBOLA SURVIVORS


I was on my normal routine reading through the online news of some local and international media. Since the intensity of the Ebola outbreak, my visits to the online features have increased. I searched with the expectation of reading encouraging news in relation to curbing the epidemic. Prior to my search, I understood that a group of global experts via the World Health Organization (WHO) convened a meeting on the Ebola epidemic. High on the agenda were discussions on the use of experimental therapies to combat the disease that has snatched the lives of over 2000 persons in West Africa. I went online to abreast myself with the outcome of the meeting. While searching, I came across a news caption ” Use Ebola Survivors’ Blood- WHO” on BBC News. It sounded interesting. In as much vaccines are under human tests, the Zmapp doses are running or have run out of stock, there is still a therapy to hope on in addition to the supportive care given to patients.

In a week or two prior to this welcoming news, I watched the Nova Documentary on the blood transfusion therapy on Liberia’s National Television station. According to the documentary, the therapy was used by some Congolese doctors in 1995 at the Kikwit General Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo. When one of the nurses working at the treatment center in Kikwit contracted the disease, the Congolese doctors told themselves that they will do everything within their reach to save the life of their fellow health worker. On a night, they convened a meeting of only Congolese doctors to find a medical means to save the ill nurse. They agreed to infuse the blood of an Ebola survivor into the nurse. The meeting outcome was brought before the international health workers working at the same treatment center.The foreign health workers rejected the suggestion on grounds that there was not advance equipment to test the survivor’s blood for all other diseases. They furthered that the therapy had never been performed in such situation and there was no guarantee that it would work. The local doctors had no other option, but persisted and conducted the transfusion. In some hours, there was some improvements in the nurse’s health. The doctors further conducted the therapy on eight patients including the nurse. Seven of the eight patients recovered. After seeing the documentary, I asked myself “aren’t doctors using similar therapy in countries affected by the disease?”. There was a 87.5% survival rate of the eight ill persons the therapy was used on . ” Why would not it be positive on patients in West Africa?” I asked myself. Some reports had it that a 14 year old survivor serum was used to treat Dr. Kent Brantly when he got infected prior to his departure to the US for further treatment. I got reports that he was able to take shower before departing Liberia and also walked out of the ambulance that carried him from the airport to the treatment center in the US. Is the survivor blood transfusion therapy being used to treat many people in affected countries?

WHO approval of the therapy had me saying ” the Congolese health workers that conducted the first transfusion are the inventors and they need to be thanked”. If not for their bravery and persistence, I doubt whether we would had known about such treatment. Even though it is not widely known in West Africa, but I am of the conviction that it will surely work pointing to the success the therapy had in Congo. If there are rewards to be given to inventors such as these, I think institutions responsible should begin planning the award ceremony for the Congolese health workers who braved the odds to experiment such therapy.

The disease has killed many people in West Africa. The weak health systems and traditional practices in Africa are impeding the fight to exterminate the disease out of Africa. With advances being made to finding vaccines and drugs for this illness, I believe that the approved therapy will help in curing people from the disease. Health workers in these affected countries should be urged to begin or resume the transfusion of survivors’ blood into patients with all the precautions taken into consideration. I am not a medical practitioner, but I do trust the judgement of WHO. I am convinced that this therapy will yield fruitful results. I laud the efforts of WHO in ensuring that medications are discovered and made available to help end this epidemic and prevent subsequent outbreaks. I also applaud the works of local and international health workers who are on the frontlines combating the disease, scientists studying to produce medication, and governments and institutions rendering support to help eradicate the disease. It should be noted that the easiest and most effective way to fighting this disease is by prevention. Staying away from infected patients and bodies, washing hands very often, stopping the consumption of bush meats and bats, and reporting suspected cases are all means of preventing ourselves. If we can implement these simple precautionary methods, I am of the opinion that not one more person will get infected with the virus. We all are hoping and praying we succeed in this fight very soon and go back to normality to alleviate the fears and suffering of people.

” YES!” TO THE USE OF EXPERIMENTAL DRUGS


I woke up this morning to the loud ringtone of my phone. I got up and ran to the table to pickup the call. I picked-up the phone and saw a familiar number calling. The caller asked ” can I have an interview with you”? I replied asking what the interview was about . The would-be interviewer informed me that there are reports that the government of Liberia via its President, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has communicated with the United States Government via President Obama, for the use of the experimental drug (Zmapp). Indeed, the United States Government through its Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consented to Liberia’s request to use the drug on two Liberian doctors. I agreed to have the interview later. Subsequently, I ran to my ipad switched on the Internet and quickly reached for the Front Page Africa website to get myself apprised. Front Page Africa carried the story confirming my would-be interviewer’s information. Additionally, I understood that the World Health Organization (WHO) also agreed to send additional doses of the experimental serum to Liberia.

After reading the article, the moment was like ” wow! Is this really happening?”. In my previous article named, Cater to Health Workers, I stressed the need for the Liberian government to ask the United States government for the possible usage of the experimental drug in Liberia. So I was elated by the news.

In little discussions, people were analyzing the negatives and positives of the used of the drug in Liberia. Some asserted that the drug has only been used on two humans that contracted the Ebola Virus in Liberia. Even though it proved to be working well on the two American Health Workers, but is that sufficient to think that same will happen to the two Liberian doctors or others that will be treated with the drug?Already there are thoughts in some corridors of Africa, that the West experiments on Africans which subsequently results into such disease as the Ebola Virus. In addition, some health experts have advised that the used of experimental drugs is not the best way to curbing this epidemic. They stressed the need for prevention, awareness, quarantining and contact tracing.

In my little corner, I began to analyze their comments from a different viewpoint. The disease has a 60 to 90% mortality rate which indicates that a victim has between 10 to 40% survival rate. The chances of death is higher than the chances of living. Additionally, the medication has been tested on two persons and has shown to be working positively. Why not have something ( the Zmapp drug) to hope on for survival than nothing at all? In as much I am not a health expert, talk less of being a health practitioner, but I am of the opinion that in addition to prevention, awareness, quarantining and contact tracing, the use of experimental drug helps in exterminating the virus. If the drug is not experimented, how do we know its positive workability? I think this is a way to go and I join hands with the WHO to overwhelmingly support the use of Zmapp or TMZ-Ebola with the consent of patients or family members.

The swift intervention of the President of Liberia to request for the drug, and the acceptance of the President of the United States of America and FDA are all commendable. The United States support in this regard and other directions that center on fighting this disease shows its unflinching interest in eradicating this epidemic from Liberia. The Chinese government should also be commended for its support through the supply of equipment and drugs to Liberia, and the West African Region affected by the virus. This donation shows the Chinese people deep interest in seeing an Ebola free Liberia and West African Region.