Ebola virus: British experts urge US and WHO to ‘give Africans cure’

Authorities in West Africa have expressed outrage that treatment was given to two US aid workers in Liberia – where disease has killed 255 people

Three of Britain’s leading Ebola specialists have said experimental treatments for the deadly Ebola virus must be offered to the people of West Africa, after two US aid workers were administered with the “cure” in Liberia.

The two missionaries, Dr Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, are alive and now being cared for at a specialist isolation unit in Atlanta.

Though the pair remain weak – and there is no way of knowing at this stage how much of a help the new drug has actually been – the fact that it was given to the two Americans has resulted in widespread criticism and recriminations in West Africa.

Now Peter Piot, who discovered Ebola in 1976, David Heymann, the director of the Chatham House Centre on Global Health Security and Jeremy Farrar from the Wellcome Trust have said there are in fact several drugs and vaccines under study that could be used to combat the disease.

“African governments should be allowed to make informed decisions about whether or not to use these products - for example to protect and treat healthcare workers who run especially high risks of infection,” they wrote in a joint statement.

Read more:
What is Ebola? The signs, symptoms and source
The 10 biggest threats to the world's health

The World Health Organization (WHO), “the only body with the necessary international authority” to allow such experimental treatments, “must take on this greater leadership role”, they said.

“These dire circumstances call for a more robust international response,” they added.

Almost 900 people have died from the Ebola virus across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since the latest outbreak began in February this year. Some strains can have fatality rates of up to 90 per cent, though that of the current crisis appears to be around 60 per cent.

Liberia’s assistant health minister, Tolbert Nyenswah, said that the news of Dr Brantly and Ms Writebol’s treatment had “made our job very difficult” as dying patients and their relatives in Africa request the same “cure”.

Dr Nyenswah told the Wall Street Journal: “The population here is asking: 'You said there was no cure for Ebola, but the Americans are curing it?'”

The US aid workers were given ZMapp, a drug made from antibodies produced in a lab that has never gone through human trials or been approved by the US’s FDA Food and Drug Administration.

Read more:
Comment: They'd find a cure if Ebola came to London
Sierra Leone suspends football matches as outbreak continues
Atlanta hospital receives hate mail for treating aid workers
Ebola outbreak is a 'threat' to UK says Philip Hammond

Piot, Farrar and Heymann questioned why Africans were not being given the same chance. If the deadly virus was raging though wealthy countries, they said, medical agencies “would begin discussions with companies and labs developing these products and then make rapid decisions about which of them might be appropriate for compassionate use”.

“Experimental treatments shouldn't be rolled out generally without prior safety testing,” they said in their statement, issued in London late on Tuesday.

“But in the face of the critical challenge in West Africa, the WHO and Western medical agencies should be helping countries weigh the risks and benefits of limited deployment of the best (drug and vaccine) candidates to those in the greatest need, while continuously monitoring safety and efficacy.”

An electron micrograph of the Ebola virus An electron micrograph of the Ebola virus Their call for action from the World Health Organisation adds weight to the growing impetus demanding the outbreak in West Africa be brought under control, and which the UK Faculty for Public Health’s Dr John Ashton wrote about in this week’s Independent on Sunday.

On Monday the World Bank pledged up to $200 million (£120 million) in emergency funding to help Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

And though cost has been cited as one of the major restrictive factors preventing drug companies from rolling out Ebola treatments across Africa, the WHO said it “would not recommend any drug that has not gone through the normal process of licensing and clinical trials”.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

News
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past