Even though African medical professionals continue to press for more traditional ways of managing the Ebola disease in patients – rehydration therapy, with a proven survival stat of 90 percent or more – a trial for a ‘possible treatment’ still began on the 1st of January 2015 at ELWA 3, an MSF (Doctors Without Borders) Ebola Management Centre in Paynesville, Monrovia.
Led by Oxford University from the United Kingdom, and funded by the Wellcome Trust, and against the wishes of relatives of test patients and African health professionals – the trial will proceed nonetheless in a bid to determine if a new manufactured chemical brincidofovir could be an effective portion for Ebola.
Meanwhile test patients, who could otherwise be receiving treatment through rehydration therapy, would be largely denied hydration regimen. The trials have come under severe opposition in West Africa.
African medical professionals, especially the National Health Association (NHA) of Ghana, Nigeria, Mali and Senegal have vehemently spoken against the trials in Liberia, calling it inhuman in some instances:
[quote_box_center]We oppose these block-headed trials of newly manufactured chemicals by Western Drug Companies in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone for the same reason that any Food and Drugs Board in any country around the world would oppose these concoctions by European Pharmaceutical Companies. These things they are trying are not vaccines. These are concoctions with no track record in animals. We abhor what the Americans and the Europeans are doing here. They are forcing their way through viable treatment for Ebola patients in Liberia at every corner. We have lives to save here not try portions they think would help them come up with the next biological weapon.[/quote_box_center]
Though the administrators in charge of the trials insist that taking part in the trial is completely voluntary, the NHA has rubbished the claims. Another worrying issue for the NHA is that the trials are designed without a control group (a group that would not receive the medication). The UK Company claims that this strategy was taken in order to include as many Ebola positive patients as possible. But the NHA has condemned the action:
[quote_box_center]How can you have a so-called ‘clinical-trial’ without a control group? What nonsense? Only in Africa do they come and put guns to our heads and force us into doing unscientific and callous tests in the name of helping Africans. These drug companies from America and Europe are not fooling anyone. We know what they are doing. We have – just cold killers! The sensible thing any scientist would do is to have a large control group of patients who are being treated with oral rehydration – something we know already works – if at all this chemical has any survival stats from animal tests.[/quote_box_center]
The MSF (Doctors Without Borders) hopes that the chemical brincidofovir might reduce deaths from Ebola, but it still stressed:
“This is not a miracle cure and it is still not known whether it will help patients survive the virus.”
“So why try it when there is something that we already know works? Why find a solution to a problem that does not exist?” said Dr. Abe Adjettey of the NHA.
“The drug, brincidofovir, will not be available at the medicine store, only under the specific conditions of the trial at ELWA 3” says Dr Jake Dunning, Trial Clinical Lead from Oxford University.
“We know that is has been taken safely by over 1,000 people in clinical trials for other viral infections and we know that is has been shown to be effective in laboratory tests that use Ebola-infected cells. What we do not know yet is if it will be effective against Ebola in humans – this is why we must do a trial,” he added.
Dr. Mamadou Diallo of Senegal and a member of the NHA responded to Dr. Dunning’s statements saying:
[quote_box_center]”They are foolish and devoid of scientific logic. Unless Dr Jake Dunning has an ulterior motive and believes he can fool us here in Liberia. We do Science too, only we don’t carry it on our foreheads the way they do. If Dr. Jake Dunning was taking a class under me in Biology, those statements alone will fail him. You don’t go from ‘effective in laboratory tests that use Ebola-infected cells‘ to trials in humans. Are you an animal?”[/quote_box_center]
The NHA is hoping that those who do not wish to be given the new treatment receive the same standard supportive care as those who do at the MSF centre. The NHA is calling on the International Community to bring pressure to bear on MSF so they can start using hydration therapy as a viable treatment for Ebola.
As of now, the trial is running against the approval of the Liberian Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority, and condemnation from the ethics committees from the University of Liberia, University of Ghana, University of Nigeria and the University of Lagos .