The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the use of unproven drugs against deadly and highly contagious Ebola virus in West Africa “ethical” as long as the provision satisfied certain criteria.
“The panelists said ethical criteria must always guide the provision of such intervention,” Assistant Director-General of the WHO Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny told journalists in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday.
She added, “I don’t think that there could be any fair distribution of something (ZMapp) which is available in such a small quantity.”
Kieny further noted that the WHO panel insists on transparency of all aspects of treatment, informed consent and freedom of choice.
Other criteria urged by the panel are confidentiality, respect for patients, preservation of dignity and involvement of community, she said.
The senior WHO official added that the vaccines and therapies in question have been experimented on monkeys but very little is known on their safety or efficacy in humans.
On Tuesday, a Spanish missionary who contracted Ebola virus while working in Liberia died in a hospital in Madrid, becoming the first European victim of the deadly disease.
The 75-year-old Roman Catholic priest, identified as Miguel Pajares, succumbed to the virus five days after being evacuated from the West African country.
On Monday, the WHO said the death toll from the Ebola virus has increased to 1,013 and that the total number of documented cases reached 1,848.
There is currently no known cure for Ebola, which is a form of hemorrhagic fever with diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding as its symptoms.
Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are grappling with Ebola, which has also spread to Nigeria. The virus spreads through direct contact with infected blood, feces or sweat. It can also be spread through sexual contact or unprotected handling of contaminated corpses.
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