Via The Globe and Mail: Experimental Canadian drug may take longer to reach Ebola-hit regions of western Africa. Click through the full report and a video. Excerpt:
Canadian and World Health Organization officials have yet to work out the myriad details of how and where to send a shipment of experimental Ebola vaccinations – meaning it may take considerably more time to get the vaccine in the hands of front-line health workers fighting the largest Ebola outbreak in history.
“Discussions with the Canadian [government] are likely to continue for a while before anything concrete is known,” said Gregory Härtl, a spokesperson with the WHO.
Mr. Härtl could not yet say when the Canadian-donated vaccine shipment is likely to arrive, where it is likely to be deployed first or to whom.
In the meantime, more and more relatively untested, experimental Ebola treatments are starting to arrive in West Africa, where the disease has killed more than 1,000 people and prompted health officials to temporarily set aside traditional rules about using experimental medication on humans.
Nigeria’s health minister announced on Thursday that the country will begin using another experimental drug called Nano Silver to treat some of the eight Nigerian residents who have Ebola. Little is known about Nano Silver, which, like several other Ebola treatments, is largely untested on humans. The minister said the drug was developed by a Nigerian scientist, but would not give the scientist’s name.
A small shipment of another experimental Ebola treatment called ZMapp has also arrived in West Africa. The drug, developed by a San Diego-based pharmaceutical company, will be used to treat patients in Liberia.
The Liberian shipment contains only about a dozen doses of ZMapp, raising difficult questions as to who should be treated first – in addition to ongoing questions about the experimental drug’s safety and effectiveness when used on humans.
Officials with the WHO and elsewhere have now largely determined that deploying experimental vaccines and treatments is likely to do more good than harm, given the massive scale and mortality rate of the ongoing Ebola outbreak. But the health agency is far less clear on how to prioritize treatment.