Doctors Without Borders (MSF) announced today that an ongoing trial of four experimental Ebola treatments will begin enrolling participants at treatment centers in Katwa and Butembo, the current hot spots in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC's) 7-month-long Ebola outbreak.
The trial, which began last November at another location, aims to identify the most effective of four Ebola treatments—Remdesivir, mAb114, REGN-EB3, and ZMapp.
"MSF's Butembo treatment center can admit 96 people, while the one in Katwa, which opened last month, has a 62-bed capacity," MSF said in a press release. "MSF has admitted more than 2,100 patients to these two centers, of which 250 were confirmed cases, with 110 people recovered. The trial started in Butembo on Feb. 7 and is expected to start in Katwa in the coming days."
Three more cases, community deaths
In its daily update, the DRC's ministry of health confirmed 3 more Ebola cases, bringing the outbreak total to 819, of which 758 are confirmed and 61 are probable. In total there have been 516 deaths, and 170 cases are still under investigation.
The new cases came from Katwa, Komanda, and Butembo. Three new community deaths were also recorded in the same cities. Community deaths, or those outside of a hospital or treatment center, raise the risk of Ebola transmission.
One of the community deaths in Komanda was a woman who refused follow-up and vaccination after her husband died from the virus. The woman was originally from Katwa and died among family members in Bunia who attempted to hide her corpse from officials.
Also today, the DRC said it had never received any reports of sexual exploitation among its staff.
The declaration was prompted by a story today in The Guardian that suggested some Congolese women and girls were being sexually exploited by health workers in order to obtain the Ebola vaccine.
"To date, the Ministry of Health has never received any complaints or reports of sexual exploitation by its staff as part of the Ebola response," the DRC said.
"Rumors about this had been circulating on social networks at one time and the Ministry of Health had been very clear that there would be no tolerance for this kind of behavior. Additional measures are being put in place to ensure a better system for detecting such incidents in the community."
Feb 12 MSF press release
Feb 12 DRC update
Feb 12 Guardian story