Although the number of Ebola cases are still on the rise in West Africa, health officials, medical teams, and pharmaceutical researchers scramble to find a treatment. Multiple news agencies announced Saturday, that ZMapp has cured 100 percent of monkeys that were inoculated with a different strain of Ebola in a Canadian study. The vaccine has not undergone the normal human clinical trial stages, however a small handful of infected people agreed to be injected with the vaccine. CBCNews.com reported yesterday that one Ebola survivor now pleads with the vaccine manufacturer to hurry with production of the drug. The drug that is being referred to as a “monumental achievement,” only had about 20 doses in stock, and all have been exhausted.
Researchers said once a living host has been sick for too long there are those instances that possible treatments can not turn back the damage already done to the body by the hemorrhagic virus. USA Today reported the small amount of people who have received the vaccine, only two have died, “a Spanish priest and Liberian doctor,” which it’s possible they may have received the vaccine too late. The monkeys who were given a lethal strain of Ebola recovered, and were given the drug five days after infection.
With only a small number of Ebola patients testing the drug it’s hard for researchers to conclude whether it’s the main reason for the patient’s recovery. Thomas Geisbert, an Ebola expert said, one of the infected Americans, Kent Brantly, didn’t just receive the vaccine but he also had a blood transfusion from an Ebola patient who survived -- so his case isn’t one hundred percent ZMapp.
The research report is published in the journal Nature, and states that humans should receive three scheduled doses to optimize the efficacy for recovery. While the World Health Organization has estimates that the current outbreak will infect more than 18,000 people, Gary Kobinger, who works for Canada’s Public Health Agency said the drug is manufactured by a bioprocessing plant in Kentucky, and can only produce 20 to 40 doses per month. But the question remains, does Zmapp work for humans? Kobinger told The Washington Post, “I think it strongly supports that concept, but it’s not proven.”
The spokesman for the owner of the Kentucky Bioprocessing plant believes that the 3 doses are theory, since conclusive human studies have not been done, the real issue he said is to have everyone focus on the clinical, and development steps to help find the correct dosing requirements, and speed up processing. ZMapp could obtain FDA approval in six months, maybe less, under their accelerated review titles.
So far, Kobinger said none of the animals tested have shown any side effects. He also indicated that the Zaire Ebola strain now appears to be mutating as it moves from host to host, and researchers can’t be sure that Zmapp will have any effect on the new mutations.