International group Doctors Without Borders is about to make a healthy difference in Africa.
West Africa has been ravaged by the deadly Ebola virus for nearly a year that has hindered the affected countries economic instability in investor confidence.
Doctors Without Borders are about turn it all around after they managed to successfully test a pill that may help save patients with early Ebola infections.
The experimental flu drug favipiravir does not help patients with advanced Ebola infections but it may help patients if they get it earlier.
According to a report by NBC’s Maggie Fox, French researchers tested the Japanese made drug in 80 real-life Ebola patients and did not appear to help people who arrived for treatment with high level of the virus in their blood.
93 % of them died but those that were not already seriously sick, only 15 percent of them died.
It’s very preliminary data and 80 patients are not enough to say for sure the drug helped.
But it’s encouraging data, the team told the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle.
Ebola has infected more than 23 000 people and killed more than 9500 of them, as indicated by the World Health Organisation.
“We are pleased at Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres or MSF) to see that favipiravir seems to have a positive effect on certain patients suffering from Ebola viral disease,” said Dr Bertrand Draguez, medical director of MSF.
According to MSF, favipravir would be a useful drug because it can be given as a pill, which means it does not require refrigeration and would be very easy to ship and store.
Other experimental drugs require to be kept frozen and infused.
Having to use needles is tricky for such a lethal disease-health workers can easily be infected if they accidentally get poked by a needle while treating a patient.
The INSERM team said 42 percent of the 80 patients they treated showed up very ill. More than 80 percent were already in kidney failure and 93 percent of them died.
There is no drug specifically approved to treat Ebola, which has killed 50 to 70 percent of patients in the epidemic.
But several are being tested including the infusion Zmapp made using tobbacco plants and another pill called brincidofovir that gives hope to the whole of Africa. Several vaccines are also being tested in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea where there has been no reports of the virus so far this year.