Ebola drug trials to start within weeks in West Africa—WHO

Marie Kieny, Head of Health Information of  WHO, said Ebola drug trials and collection of survivors’ blood for treating patients would get underway in West Africa within weeks.

Kieny said in Geneva on Wednesday that WHO and partner organisations were currently selecting treatment centres in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to conduct trials of experimental Ebola drugs.

Kieny said as advised by WHO and international experts, drug companies had been working to fast-track Ebola drugs and vaccines development by testing them directly in West Africa.

She said work was underway in Liberia to set up a blood collection centre for Ebola survivors in the coming weeks.

The officer said that at the centre blood would be processed into serum that would be eventually administered on  infected patients.

Kieny said WHO’s partner organisations were also working to set up similar centres in Sierra Leone and Guinea, the two other countries worst affected by the Ebola Virus Disease.

“So-called convalescent serum contains antibodies that can theoretically help a sick patient overcome the virus but the treatment is still being developed.

“This is a process that needs to take into account the safety of the donor as well as the safety of the recipient,” she said.

Kieny stressed that the infection risks for other blood-borne illnesses,  including hepatitis and HIV.

She said that thousands of experimental vaccine doses would be ready by January for large-scale testing in West Africa on health workers and possibly burial of staff and family members of patients.

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