Saturday, August 9, 2014

Why Is Experimental Serum for Ebola Being Withheld From Sick People Who Need It?

The deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa is the deadliest one in history. There is a lot of misinformation and confusion about this scary disease in West Africa and elsewhere. But there are a lot of questions and I have quite a few.
 Life is precious, all life is precious, I would hope we can all agree on that. There must be other doses of the experimental serum that helps treat people who are infected with the deadly Ebola virus.  The experimental serum that was given to Dr. Kent Brantley and Nancy Writebol seems to have worked. It has also been effective in trials with infected animals, in a laboratory, who were given the serum. The sooner it is given after a person (or animal) shows symptoms the greater chance they will survive the deadly disease. There must be doses of this experimental serum, (ZMapp) somewhere, and yet they are being withheld. I can't understand this.  According to CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, within 24 hours of Dr. Brantley being given the serum, he started to show signs of improvement. Nancy Whitebol took a little longer but she is also improving. They were given the serum in Africa, before they were flown to America. One company, whose stock was soaring on Friday, Tekmira pharmaceuticals,  is developing a vaccine and/or serum to fight Ebola. They must have some serum that is available. (I just read they have a very limited supply of their experimental medicine.)The experimental serum is very promising so what's holding up the distribution and manufacture of it? After all, it's an international health crisis. People are dying, children are sick and yet where is the serum? Is it because more testing is needed, its not conclusive? Do you think people who are dying are going to care about side effects or exhaustive trial studies?  Or does it have to do with cost?
 Even if there are 50 doses of this serum available, why not give it to 50 sick people? Children? Who is holding this up? And why isn't the process to manufacture more of this serum being expedited?  (According to a New York Times article I just read from Sat. Aug. 9th, "There are virtually no remaining supplies of the drug....... And in a few months there will only be a few hundred doses"......I find it hard to believe).
From what I've read all the medical trials and experiments on infected animals in the laboratory, so far have been promising. And also with human beings as I've written above. So what's holding up giving this serum to sick people?  Why isn't it being distributed to Doctors Without Borders (who do such great work in West Africa) for use? Or more importantly why not rush to manufacture additional doses to halt the epidemic and save lives and continue safety trials on the drug at the same time.
In one article I read about this deadly outbreak, the doctors and nurses who were treating dying patients said people dying from the virus had one last request. Most victims just wanted someone to hold their hand while they were dying. I felt so sorry for these poor people. More must be done and quickly.