Ebola: WHO approves use of untested drugs, toll 1,013
Posted on Aug 12 2014 | IANS
Geneva, Aug 12 : The toll from the Ebola virus disease in West Africa has risen to 1,013, leading the World Health Organisation (WHO) Tuesday to approve the use of experimental drugs to fight the disease.
The UN health institution indicated that 52 more patients had died since last Friday, while there were 69 new cases over the same period, bringing the number of affected to 1,848.
In a statement, the WHO's Ethics Committee said that in the light of the scale of the outbreak and the high number of deaths, it was ethical to use untested drugs against the Ebola virus.
The announcement came as Liberia, one of the worst-affected countries with 323 deaths and 599 cases, prepared to receive experimental treatment from the US in the coming days.
Washington Tuesday agreed to provide Liberia with experimental serum ZMapp, which has been used with success on two US aid workers infected with Ebola in Liberia and repatriated to the US.
The move came after Liberia's President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, asked the US for the drug to fight the virus.
The White House and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the request for the serum to treat Liberian doctors currently infected with the Ebola virus.
A US government representative is expected to bring the drug into the country later this week.
Liberia registered the highest number of new infections and deaths between Aug 7 and 9, when 29 patients lost their lives and 45 new infections were recorded, the WHO reported Tuesday.
Sierra Leone followed with 17 deaths and 13 new patients, while six people died and 11 new cases were recorded in Guinea Conakry over that period.
Overall, Guinea is the country with the highest mortality, with 373 deaths, followed by Liberia with 323.
In Sierra Leone, the toll has risen to 315 out of 730 cases, and in Nigeria only 13 cases have been diagnosed, of which two were fatal.