Ebola Outbreak: Obama Thumbs Down Sending Experimental Serum to Africa
By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | August 7, 2014 1:53 PM EST
U.S. President Barack Obama has quashed calls of health experts to send to Africa the experimental ZMapp serum that was given to two Ebola-inflicted American health workers. The president thumbed down the proposal saying the drug still needs further testing if it indeed is working as it should.
U.S President Barack Obama hugs first lady Michelle as they watch the Diamond Head basketball game between Oregon State and Akron during their Christmas vacation in Honolulu, Hawaii, December 22, 2013.
"I think we've got to let the science guide us," Mr Obama said at a news conference to cap the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. "I don't think all the information is in on whether this drug is helpful."
Americans Dr Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol contracted the deadly virus while doing missionary work in afflicted Liberia. They were given the experimental ZMapp drug before being repatriated to the U.S. The CDC claimed both are responding well to the treatment.
Mr Obama said the ZMapp drug still lacked enough information being that it's still on its testing stage when experts decided to use it on Brantly and Writebol.
Instead, the U.S. president wants to focus more on the Ebola-affected countries' public health systems.
"The Ebola virus, both currently and in the past, is controllable if you have a strong public health infrastructure in place," Mr Obama said.
"The countries were the first to admit they have been overwhelmed. They weren't able to identify and then isolate cases quickly enough. As a consequence, it spread more rapidly than has been typical with the periodic Ebola outbreaks that occurred previously."
Some Africans have blasted the seemingly cruel and greedy stance of Americans not to extend the experimental ZMapp drug to the very region that is badly needing it.
Not passing on the experimental ZMapp drug to African doctors "would be scandalous and criminal," LA Times quoted professor Alani Sulaimon Akanmu of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.
Latest figures as of Monday released by the WHO showed 1,711 people in West Africa have been diagnosed with the disease, of which 932 have died - 363 in Guinea, 286 in Sierra Leone and 282 in Liberia.
San Diego-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical and Owensboro-based Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP), developer and manufacturer, respectively, of the experimental ZMapp drug, said it would take several months to produce it in volumes in case it gets the go signal from the authorities to ship it out to Africa.
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