By Winniecynthia Awuor

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended the use of two monoclonal antibody treatments against Ebola, as its use combined with better care has demonstrated clear benefits in reducing death by about 60% to date.

The organization also calls on the global community to increase access to these lifesaving medicines.

This is according to WHO’s first published guideline for Ebola virus disease therapeutics report.

Ebola is a severe and fatal illness caused by the Ebola virus. Previous outbreaks and responses have shown that early diagnosis and treatment with optimized supportive care-with fluid and electrolyte repletion and treatment of symptoms significantly improve survival.

“Advances in supportive care and therapeutics over the decade have revolutionized the treatment of Ebola which was perceived as a near-certain killer, which is no longer the case,” said Dr. Robert Fowler co-chair of the WHO guideline development group.

The new recommendation of two monoclonal antibody treatments:mAb114 (Ansuvimab; Ebanga) and REGN-EB3(Inmazeb) follows trials of the drugs against hemorrhagic fever in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) during a 2018-2020 outbreak

“Provision of best supportive medical care to patients, combined with monoclonal antibody treatment – MAb114 or REGN-EB3 – now leads to recovery for the vast majority of people,” noted Dr. Fowler.

The new guidance complements clinical care guidance that outlines the optimized supportive care Ebola patients should receive, from the relevant tests to administer, to managing pain, nutrition and co-infections, and other approaches that put the patient on the best path to recovery.

“This therapeutic guide is a critical tool to fight Ebola,” said Dr. Richard Kojan, co-chair of the Guideline Development Group of experts selected by WHO and President of the Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA).

“It will help reassure the communities, health care workers, and patients that this life-threatening disease can be treated thanks to effective drugs. From now on, people infected with the Ebola virus will have a greater chance of recovering if they seek care as early as possible.”

However, access to both these treatments remains challenging, especially in resource-poor areas. These drugs should be where patients need them the most: where there is an active Ebola outbreak, or where the threat of outbreaks is high or very likely, he added.

Furthermore, WHO is ready to support countries, manufacturers, and partners to improve access to these treatments, and to support national and global efforts to increase the affordability of bio-therapeutics.

Besides, the WHO has published the first invitation to manufacturers of therapeutics against Ebola virus disease to share their drugs for evaluation by the WHO Prequalification Unit, a crucial step to improve drug access for communities and countries affected by Ebola.

Although WHO was able to make strong recommendations for the use of two therapeutics, there is a need for further research and evaluation of clinical interventions, as many uncertainties remain, according to the guideline.

Further improvements could be made in supportive care, understanding and characterization of Ebola virus disease and its longer-term consequences, and ensuring continued inclusion of vulnerable populations (pregnant women, newborns, children, and older people) in future research.