By Emmanuel Edukugho
For Ebola, an illness of exceptional contagion which first outbreak of the virus was in 1976, its origin traced to Congo and Sudan, cure for the dreaded disease seems to have been found in the United States (US).
Two American citizens in Liberia struck by the ailment while on medical missionary work, Nancy Writebol and Dr. Ken Brantly flown to the US to get treatment have improved tremendously, after being given the experimental drug.
The two Ebola victims, who had travelled 6,000 miles from West Africa in special aircraft, were admitted at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, are now getting much better. They were unable to walk on arrival, but are now doing so.
The report named the serum as ZMapp – an experimental drug, even not yet approved for clinical trials, although already used on small number of monkeys. It was grown in green house with genetically modified tobacco. So far, the drug is working well on the Ebola patients.
Manufactured by a US pharmaceutical company, ZMapp was supposed to hit the market in 2015, but is being tried because of the current deadly epidemic caused by the virus now ravaging Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea with nearly 900 people killed by the disease which has made inroad into Nigeria. With one person dead and eight people confirmed positive to Ebola, Africa’s most populous country could be fatally threatened.
The two Americans have reportedly got up on their own after the drug was administered on them, seen as a big surprise. They are already recovering.
Patients afflicted by Ebola are usually quarantined, going into isolation in the four West African countries where the disease is ravaging, well protected and temperatures taken twice a day.
The (US) plans to send 50 health experts to West Africa and help the health authorities in combating the scourge. Ebola is virtually out of control in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea as dozens of doctors and nurses have died in efforts to give medicare to victims.
Unlike Africa with poor ineffective and obsolete medical facilities, the US has top class infrastructure and medical personnel to take quick care of Ebola victims. Among these are the Centre for Disease Control, CDC, the National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases, IAID, and several others who are up to the challenge. The experimental serum has brought some ray of hope to the global community including Nigeria.
The World Health Organisation has contributed $100 million to fighting Ebola and so too the World Bank, concerned about the spread and devastating effect of the scourge.
In a radio interview, Professor Oluyemi Akinloye, head of Clinical Chemistry, Medical Laboratory, University of Lagos, said only little has been done in Nigeria towards research for Ebola cure. No magic in scientific Ebola cure. It’s a big challenge for Africa. No magic in scientific research, as there are protocols to be followed.
Asked about the Ebola experimental drug, he seemed not aware of this development, but agreed that some vaccines have been produced in Nigeria and currently tested on mice which is quite good.
“The Ebola epidemic can be opportunity to test these vaccines and speed up trials in Africa. We are dealing with humans. Emphasis should be on precaution to control the spread. All scientists in Nigeria are coming together,” he stated.
Akinloye assured that physicians are talking, not doing so bad in fighting the epidemic.
On Professor Maurice Iwu’s claim that bitter kola could be a remedy, he noted that this was still in experimental stage.
“Traditional medicine has its protocol and a lot still has to be done.”
Other contributors to the radio programme lamented that it was shameful that since 1976, there has been no vaccine for Ebola.
One of them asked what the Federal Government has been doing since the outbreak in Liberia, Sierra Leone, etc.
Chief Research Director, Research Institute of Traditional Medicine, Dr. Idowu, disclosed that research had been conducted on the virus. “We’ve gone to roots. In Yoruba, Ebola is called Ajakale-Arun, which is medicinal plant,” he stated. On whether bitter kola can cure Ebola, he said it had not been tried yet.