A Liberian health worker who recovered from Ebola after receiving an experimental drug urged the manufacturer to speed up its production and send it to Africa,
Physician's assistant Kyndy Kobbah was expected to be released from hospital Saturday after she survived Ebola, which has been fatal in more than half the cases sweeping West Africa.
Kobbah contracted the disease while working at a government-run hospital north of the capital.
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“[The] house is on fire right now" with celebration she said, about her family’s reaction to news that she had been cured.
Kobbah urged the manufacturer of the experimental drug known as ZMapp to step up production.
"They need to make more ZMapp and send to us," she said.
The company has said that all its supplies are exhausted and it will take months to make more.
Doctors have said there is no way to know whether ZMapp made a difference or if survivors like Kobbah recovered on their own. About 45 per cent of people infected in this outbreak have recovered without the aid of a cure.
The drug had never been tested in humans before it was given to two Americans who were infected with Ebola in Liberia. They survived Ebola and were released from an Atlanta hospital.
Positive signs for ZMapp
However, a study released online Friday by the journal Nature found that ZMapp healed all 18 monkeys infected with the deadly virus.
ZMapp, developed with involvement of the Public Health Agency of Canada and U.S. researchers, is a cocktail of three monoclonal antibodies that is designed to bind to the protein of the Ebola virus, neutralizing the virus so it can’t do any further damage.
A Phase 1 safety study is scheduled to begin in healthy humans in early 2015. Mapp BioPharmaceuticals, which has licensed the drug, is conducting the next stages of research needed to seek regulatory approval for ZMapp.
If safety data from a Phase 1 trial in humans in the U.S. supports the compassionate use of ZMapp, Kobinger expects it could be used under Health Canada’s special access program possibly by spring. But scaling up production in tobacco plants to stockpile thousands of doses is another matter.
Blockades lifted in Liberia
Meanwhile, tensions diminished Saturday in the West Point neighbourhood of Liberia's capital after authorities lifted a blockade that had sparked unrest.
Residents living in the area had feared running out of food and safe water on the peninsula.
Liberia's president had ordered the barricade on Aug. 19 after West Point residents stormed an Ebola health centre several days earlier.
Residents said they did not want sick people being brought into the community, although those staying at the centre were only under observation during a 21-day incubation period.
Amid the ruckus, some protesters made off with blood-stained mattresses and other materials that could potentially spread the Ebola virus.
Liberia has been the hardest hit of the five countries with Ebola cases in West Africa, reporting at least 694 deaths among 1,378 cases.
More than 3,000 cases have been reported across Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Senegal announced its first case on Friday.