Ebola Drug: Death of Liberian Doctor Raises Questions On Its Efficacy

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By Kalyan Kumar | August 26, 2014 2:09 PM EST

The death of a popular Liberian doctor after getting treated with the experimental Ebola drug has raised many questions on its efficacy.  The Huffington Post reported the death of Dr. Abraham Borbor, who was the deputy chief medical doctor at Liberia's largest hospital. He was one among the three Africans, who received ZMapp- the untested drug.  Earlier, two Americans treated with that medicine had recovered.  

Reuters
Health workers wearing protective clothing prepare before carrying an abandoned dead body presenting with Ebola symptoms at Duwala market in Monrovia August 17 2014. To try to control the Ebola epidemic spreading through West Africa, Liberia has quarantined remote villages at the epicentre of the virus, evoking the "plague villages" of medieval Europe that were shut off from the outside world.

According to Lewis Brown, Liberia's Information Minister, the doctor was showing signs of improvement. But his condition suddenly a turn for the worse and he died on Monday, according to Associated Press.  

No update is available on the condition of other two Liberians who took the doses of ZMapp.

Reasons of Failure

The drug ZMapp had not been tested in humans. It is still not clear whether it works or not. Also the quality of treatment the two Americans got at the Atlanta hospital are different from the conditions in West Africa. Also the basics like sterile fluids are in short supply at Liberia.

Ebola has already killed 1,400 people across West African countries such as Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Nowthe outbreak of Ebola is threatening Congo.

Dr. David Nabarro, coordinating the U.N. response to the Ebola crisis, said the effort to defeat Ebola is not a battle but a war. It is too early to say whether we are winning the war or losing it.

Ebola has defied all vaccines and established methods of cure. The disease causes a grisly death with eyes, mouth and ears bleeding. The virus is transmitted through direct contact with the body fluids of the sick or from the bodies of the victims. This puts doctors and health care workers at high risk.

William Pooley, the first British citizen confirmed with Ebola is recuperating at an isolation ward in London's Royal Free Hospital. He was evacuated from Sierra Leone. Pooley was working as a volunteer nurse at one of the Ebola treatment centres there.

Recently a Senegalese doctor was also infected with Ebola while working in Sierra Leone. According to the WHO Assistant Director General, Dr. Keiji Fukada, the process of evacuating the doctor is on.  

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(Photo: Reuters / 2Tango)
Health workers wearing protective clothing prepare before carrying an abandoned dead body presenting with Ebola symptoms at Duwala market in Monrovia August 17 2014. To try to control the Ebola epidemic spreading through West Africa, Liberia has quarantined remote villages at the epicentre of the virus, evoking the "plague villages" of medieval Europe that were shut off from the outside world.
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