Monday, 17 June, 2024
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Trial drugs cure 20 Ebola patients in Uganda

Trial drugs have saved the lives of 20 people infected with the Ebola Sudan virus in Uganda, say doctors, who were using monoclonal antibodies, Remdesivir and other supportive treatments on the patients. So far, the epidemic has infected 58 people in the country and killed 19.

The monoclonal antibody is a type of lab-manufactured protein administered to neutralise the targeted infectious agents. Remdesivir, on the other hand, is a broad-spectrum antiviral drug previously tested in COVID-19 patients, reports Monitor (Uganda).

Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng said with these drugs and community engagement, the country was making progress in containing the epidemic.

“The US Government came in very quickly to provide the trial drugs, Remdesivir and monoclonal antibodies that we then used on our infected health workers,” she added.

The Health Ministry discharged five health workers who recovered from Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) after undergoing treatment at Fort Portal Hospital.

They are part of a group of seven staff who had operated on an Ebola patient on 15 September in Mubende Hospital before the outbreak was confirmed. At least four health workers have died of Ebola.

Dr Tony Musoke, the lead physician who was treating the Ebola patients, said the newer treatment options (monoclonal antibodies) donated by the US Government contributed hugely to the medics’ quick recovery.

“Usually Ebola Sudan virus has a very protracted course of illness. It could go above three weeks plus but our colleagues have had much faster recoveries,” he said.

Aceng said the estimated case-fatality ratio for Ebola Sudan virus had varied from 41% to 100% in the past outbreaks.

Dr Charles Olaro, director of clinical services at the Ministry, said they got only seven doses of the monoclonal antibodies.

“Most of those are manufactured in the United States. There are not many factories that make monoclonal antibodies,” he said.

He added: “Factories manufacture what is needed. Even if you want 1 000 of them right now, you will need to go through the process of them manufacturing again and then getting the products to you. It is not like the tablets.”

However, it is not the first time monoclonal antibodies have being used on Ebola patients. The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that in one of the studies in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), “of the 154 patients who received Inmazeb (a brand of monoclonal antibodies), 33.8% died after 28 days, compared with 51% of the 153 patients who received a control”.

The health workers who recovered in Fort Portal were treated at the Joint Mobile Emerging Disease Intervention Clinical Capability (JMEDICC) centre, a clinic run under a collaboration between US and Ugandan researchers.

Dr Stephen Ataro, a clinical epidemiologist who participated in past Ebola responses, said a person’s immune system is a strong determinant for survival.

“If you have strong immunity then survival chances are higher but if you have chronic illnesses like cancer, kidney disease and cardiovascular diseases. like hypertension, those reduce your chances,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Yoweri Museveni has ordered an immediate lockdown and imposition of a dusk-till-dawn curfew for three weeks in two districts in a bid to stop the spread of the deadly disease.

Places of worship, markets, bars and entertainment will be closed and restrictions have been placed on movement in and out of the two central districts of Mubende and Kassanda for 21 days, reports News24.

Authorities said the outbreak is concentrated in the two affected districts and has not reached Kampala, the capital of 1.5m, despite a husband and wife testing positive there.

Museveni had already ordered traditional healers to stop treating sick people and ordered police to arrest anyone suspected of having contracted the virus who refuses to go into isolation.

Uganda’s last recorded death from a previous Ebola outbreak was in 2019.


Monitor (Uganda) article – Wonder Ebola drugs cure 20 patients in Uganda (Open access)


News24 article – Uganda locks down two districts in bid to check spread of Ebola (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Ebola in Uganda: Four things you need to know


Uganda announces first death in latest Ebola outbreak


Uganda starts preventative Ebola vaccine trial


Uganda to begin Ebola vaccine programme in high risk areas


Intravenous remdesivir reduced hospitalisation by 87% in high-risk COVID patients



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