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Global health

Tens of thousands need access to Ebola treatment or prophylaxis

Calculation illustrates need to scale up the production and distribution of experimental drugs or vaccines to allow the interventions to be rolled out evenly and fairly.

Zmapp drug for fight against Ebola in Liberia

Source: epa european pressphoto agency b.v. / Alamy

Liberian Deputy Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswuah carrys a box containing the Zmapp test drugs for Ebola patients in Liberia moments after it arrived at Roberts International Airport, Margibi County, Liberia

Up to 30,000 people would have so far required treatment or prophylaxis in the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa, according to a “crude” analysis of demand for investigational drugs and vaccines by University of Oxford epidemiologist Oliver Brady.

The figure is based on calculating the number of people already infected with the virus and those directly exposed to it, as well as others such as essential medical and support staff who need to be protected.  Non-medical staff who require vaccination, such as those working for non-governmental organisations, key service workers and travellers who become infected are also included on the spreadsheet.

The total number, which he describes as a conservative estimate, would increase if the disease continues to spread from rural to urban environments, exposing more people to the virus.

The calculation, reported in Nature (2014;512:233)[1], illustrates the need to scale up the production and distribution of any experimental drugs or vaccines in development to allow the interventions to be rolled out evenly and fairly, he says. 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.20066245

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