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14 Nov 2014
Clinical trials of this candidate Ebola vaccine will take place in the US, Germany, Gabon and Kenya. Photo: WHO/M. Missioneiro
A top UN Ebola scientist warned on Friday that there’s no quick fix for the virus and it could take until late next year before a solution is found.
Dr Martin Friende from World Health Organization (WHO) said vaccine tests were under way and that drug testing was vital.
But he added that not a lot of the currently available drugs gave reason for optimism.
The WHO specialist also said that there were only a handful of available drug trial sites in the three West African countries affected by the disease.
One drug given to Ebola sufferers — Lamivudine – doesn’t have any effect, Dr Friende explained to journalists in Geneva.
Other more readily available drugs — including Favipiravir, Toremifine and Interferons — have been shown to have a limited effect on Ebola, Dr Friende said.
“What is certain is that we don’t have actually a lot of drugs in our pipeline that look promising, so we have established a working group that will be reviewing drugs on an ongoing basis and trying to find some supportive data.”
The UN specialist added that while some drugs in development do appear to be effective against Ebola in animal trials, they’re just not available yet in significant quantities.
WHO’s latest comments follow an announcement by Doctors Without Borders that testing on potential anti-Ebola drugs will begin in coming weeks in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Officially, Ebola has claimed more than 5,000 victims in West Africa, though the real death toll is believed to be three times higher.
Daniel Johnson, United Nations