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Butembo and its surroundings, the new epicentre of the outbreak

Potential new Ebola drugs being trialled in MSF treatment centres

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Four potential new treatments for Ebola are being used in a randomised controlled trial (RCT) at the Ebola Treatment Centres operated by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Katwa and Butembo, in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The trial, being run in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, originally began in November 2018 in another treatment centre in the region, and MSF facilities are now able to contribute to providing valuable information on these developmental drugs.

The treatments that will be used in the RCT are drugs remdesivir, mAb114, REGN-EB3 and ZMapp. They have been offered to patients since the beginning of the current Ebola outbreak under Monitored Emergency Use of Unregistered and Investigational Interventions (MEURI) protocols.

The switch from MEURI protocols to a clinical trial is a critical step, as a clinical trial can generate the scientific data needed to draw conclusions on how effective these treatments are. The main objective of the trial is to identify the most effective of the four products to treat Ebola patients.

The trial is overseen by a steering committee convened by the World Health Organization and led by the National Institute of Biomedical Research of DRC (INRB) and the US National Institute of Health (NIH) in collaboration with other national and international organisations.
Butembo and Katwa are currently the hotspots of the Ebola epidemic that was declared in DRC on 1 August 2018.

The Butembo treatment centre can admit 96 people, while the one in Katwa, which opened last month, has a 62-bed capacity. Since they opened, MSF has admitted more than 2,100 patients to these two centres, of which 250 were confirmed cases, with 110 people recovering.

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