WHO to commence Ebola drug trials in West Africa

by Chidi Okoye

The head of Health Information of the World Health Organisation, Marie Paule Kieny, has revealed that Ebola drug trials and collection of survivors’ blood for treating patients would soon commence in West Africa.

Speaking in Geneva on Wednesday, 22 October, she said that WHO and partner organisations were currently selecting treatment centres in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to conduct trials of experimental Ebola drugs.

She said that drug companies had been working to fast-track Ebola drugs and vaccines development by testing them directly in West Africa, adding that work was under way in Liberia to set up a blood collection centre for Ebola survivors in the coming weeks.

Furthermore, the WHO official said that at the centre blood would be processed into serum that would be eventually administered on infected patients.

She said, “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.”

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.

She added that thousands of experimental vaccine doses would be ready for large-scale testing in West Africa in January 2015.

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