The Slatest

“Encouraging” Results Reported in Ebola Drug Trial, but New-Case Count Is Up Again

A health worker checks a child’s temperature in Monrovia, Liberia.

James Giahyue/Reuters

Treatment of individuals who have contracted the Ebola virus with a drug called favipiravir has had “encouraging” results in Guinea, the New York Times reports.

The medicine, which interferes with the virus’s ability to copy itself, seems to have halved mortality — to 15 percent, from 30 percent — in patients with low to moderate levels of Ebola in their blood, researchers have found. It had no effect in patients with more virus in their blood, who are more likely to die.

Favipiravir was developed in Japan and approved as an influenza drug; it was given to “69 patients older than 14” in the Guinea trial. More testing is ongoing, while a “serum transfusion” treatment called “convalescent plasma therapy” is being tested in Liberia. (At least three vaccines are in human trial stages as well.)

The World Health Organization says that the weekly new-case count in the Ebola outbreak countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea rose last week for the first time this year with 124 new infections reported.