Syringe to depict treatment during clinical trial
Image by Pixabay

The previously incurable Ebola virus can now be cured in just an hour. Two out of four experimental treatments used in a randomized clinical trial have proven to treat the Ebola virus that was deemed incurable until this week. A study was launched in November 2018 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after the Ebola outbreak in the North Kivu and Ituri Provinces. The two drugs, known as the REGN-EB3 and the mAb114, proved to be so effective that the study was stopped so the drugs could be used to treat all future patients.

Dr Jean Jacque Muyembe and his team, who oversaw the Ebola Treatment Centers announced that the drugs can cure 90% of patients who seek treatment early. “This is the achievement of my life,” Dr Muyembe said in an interview with Focus on Africa. According to Dr Muyembe, the antibody-based treatment neutralizes the virus and cures the symptoms in just an hour. The treatment, which is considered one of the biggest health breakthroughs of the year is given in the form of an injection.

Dr Muyembe, who has been researching the Ebola virus for over fifty years, warned that this is not a preventative treatment but rather a curing treatment. Therefore people should still be vigilant and avoid contact with body fluids of those affected.

Researchers are hoping that new developments motivate people to trust health workers and seek treatment early.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ebola virus “first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks.” One outbreak happened in what is now called Nzara, South Sudan and the other in Yambuku, DRC in a village near the Ebola River, hence the name.

The largest outbreak to ever happen since the discovery of the virus in 1976 was the 2014 – 2016 outbreak in West Africa. According to WHO, the most recent outbreak (2018 – 2019 outbreak) in eastern DRC is the most complex outbreak, “with insecurity adversely affecting public health response activities.”

Symptoms 

According to WHO, symptoms of Ebola include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat

Followed by:

  • Diarrhoea 
  • Vomiting
  • Symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function
  • Rash
  • In some cases, both internal and external bleeding

Public Response

The news received a positive response from the public with many taking to Twitter to congratulate all those involved. One Twitter user congratulated Dr Muyembe for the hard work he put into finding a treatment for the virus.

Another praised the wonders that science can perform and took to Twitter to send a heartfelt congratulatory message to the teams involved.

Not everyone was happy though, some took to Twitter to raise questions about the treatment being available in the DRC only. 

The National Institution of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and other sponsors thanked all those involved, acknowledging the fact that they had to work, “under extremely difficult conditions.” They also thanked all the patients who participated in the study.