Officials in Liberia say they expect to receive an experimental drug from a U.S. company to treat Ebola patients. The drug is called ZMapp. However, it has not been tested for safety in humans. Liberian officials plan to use the drug to treat two doctors who became infected with Ebola while treating patients.
The World Health Organization has said it is ethical to give unproven drugs to Ebola patients to try to fight the disease in West Africa. The WHO said that use of ZMapp must be done with, in its words, "informed consent, freedom of choice, confidentiality, respect for the person, preservation of dignity and involvement of the community."
A Catholic religious worker from Spain received ZMapp at a hospital in Madrid, but officials there announced Tuesday that he had died. The drug also is being used to treat two U.S. aid workers. The patients have shown signs of improvement. However, officials do not know if their improvement is the result of the drug treatment.
The Liberian patients would be the first in Africa to use ZMapp. That has caused some people to ask questions about access to medicines. Users on the social media application Twitter have posted comments using the hashtag #GiveUstheSerum. A hashtag is a way to group Tweets, or Twitter messages, related to a topic. Some Tweets say that if Americans and Europeans can choose whether to use the drug, then others also should be able to make that decision.
The WHO says more than 1,000 people have died since the outbreak began in February. Most of the deaths were in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Health officials in Nigeria recently confirmed a new case of Ebola on Monday. At that time, officials said 10 people had been infected and two people had died. The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa may infect more people than all previous outbreaks of the virus combined. Currently, the disease has no known cure or vaccine.
I’m Jonathan Evans.
Words in the News
confirm – v. to approve; to say that something is true
consent - n. permission for something to happen or be done
infect – v. to make sick with something that causes disease
outbreak - n. a sudden start or increase in fighting or disease.
hashtag - n. a hash or pound sign (#) used to identify messages on a topic on social media site such as Twitter
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