One of the U.S. aid workers currently infected with Ebola may have received an experimental treatment for the drug, according to a statement released by Samaritan’s Purse, one of the two North Carolina-based Christian relief groups the two were working with in Liberia.
According to the organisation, there was only enough serum for one patient, and so Dr. Kent Brantly asked that it be given to his colleague, Nancy Writebol.
However, Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, has said that there is no known effective treatment for Ebola and told NBC News that he does not know what specific experimental treatment the group is referring to.
Brantly and Writebol are most likely the workers that U.S. plans to transport to Emory University Hospital, though they have not identified them by name.
CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds said her agency was working with the U.S. State Department to facilitate the transfer.
Amber Brantly, the wife of Dr. Brantly, said in a statement: “I remain hopeful and believing that Kent will be healed from this dreadful disease.”
Earlier on Thursday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the State Department was working with the CDC on medical evacuations of infected American humanitarian aid workers.
Brantly and Writebol “were in stable but grave” condition as of early Thursday morning, the relief organisations said.
CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said in a conference call that transferring gravely ill patients has the potential to do more harm than good.
According to SIM, Writebol, 59, received an experimental drug doctors hope will improve her health. Brantly, 33, received a unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy who survived Ebola with the help of Brantly’s medical care, said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse.
In an interview with NBC News, Frieden said he did not know what experimental drug may have been given to Writebol. He could not comment on the specifics of either treatment but said: “We have reviewed the evidence of the treatments out there and don’t find any treatment that has proven effectiveness against Ebola.”
Thomas Geisbert of the University of Texas Medical Branch told NBC that his team has researched using antibodies from a survivor to try and develop a treatment, but they haven’t had success with that approach.
U.S. regulators may not have been involved with the company providing the drug as the patients were not in the U.S. at the time.
The statement by Samaritan’s Purse said Brantly and Writebol’s evacuation could be complete early next week. The transport plane can only carry one patient at a time.
(Reuters reporting by Julie Steenhuysen and Colleen Jenkins; Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Will Dunham, Sandra Maler and Lisa Shumaker)
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