In 2014, much of the Western world kept a nervous eye on the West African Ebola outbreak, watching the numbers slowly rise as photographs of doctors in hazmat suits wading through overcrowded hospitals were plastered across the front pages of the papers. In 2018, the virus resurfaced, but most westerners still felt fairly confident that a virus of that proportion would never hit their shores.
This year, that confidence was shattered when COVID-19 proved that the threat of a global pandemic is much realer than previously thought. However, Inmazeb, the viral treatment from Regeneron, has recently obtained FDA approval for use against Ebola. Regeneron is also known for having been recently lauded by President Trump after he received one of their treatments when he tested positive for the coronavirus
The numbers still don’t point to eradication of the disease—Inmazeb showed that only 34% of patients died after 28 days, rather than the previous and much higher 51%—but it’s certainly a step towards ridding West Africa of a virus that has plagued the continent on and off for decades. The drug is one of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ antibody cocktails, a combination of three monoclonal antibodies that attack the virus by using its three-pronged antibody approach to block virus reproduction.
"It's very good news for Ebola patients," said Julien Potet of Doctors Without Borders' Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines. "And approval by a stringent regulatory authority like the U.S. FDA is very helpful in order to support the introduction of that treatment in other countries."
The world’s second-largest Ebola outbreak, which began in 2018, was only considered to be contained this summer, perhaps partially due to global quarantines initiated because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Almost 3,500 people were infected during this outbreak and 2,287 died.
The FDA had approved Ervebo, an Ebola vaccine, in December of 2019. While the vaccine should help prevent future outbreaks of the disease, Regeneron’s treatment will help slow and eventually stop current outbreaks across Africa. Once Ervebo and Inmazeb are widely available throughout the continent, Africa should finally see relief from Ebola.