DR Congo anti-Ebola coordinator delighted by drug breakthrough

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Jean-Jacques Muyembe was recently appointed by President Felix Tshisekedi to coordinate the year-long campaign against Ebola in DR Congo. [Getty Images]
The General Director of the Democratic Republic of the Congo National Institute for Biomedical Research, Jean-Jacques Muyembe, has expressed delight at the announcement that two prototype drugs were effective in boosting chances of survival for patients of the deadly disease.

Muyembe was recently appointed by President Felix Tshisekedi to coordinate the year-long campaign against Ebola in the country.

He said that out of four confirmed cases in the eastern city of Goma, “two have been cured” after 11 days of treatment.

“This is a strong message for us that Ebola is curable. Today, the drugs are there,” he said.

On Monday, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) said two drugs, out of four being tested among Ebola patients in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, had significantly boosted survival rates.

The two drugs, known by their lab names as REGN-EB3 and mAb114, belong to a class of treatments called monoclonal antibodies, which are designed to bind to the virus and neutralise it.

A total of 681 people had been recruited for the trial, which began in November.

The DR Congo’s Ebola outbreak is the tenth and was declared in August 2018. It is considered the largest ever outbreak, with cases surpassing 2,500. It is also the second-biggest Ebola epidemic ever recorded, behind the West Africa outbreak of 2014-2016.

WHO last month declared the DR Congo Ebola outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, calling for more measures to curb its spread.

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