The World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved the use of blood serums obtained from the survivors of Ebola to cure those people who are infected. This method has been used in the past to cure patients of other infectious diseases. However, some researchers are sceptical of its use for Ebola patients.
WHO endorsed blood transfusion as a cure for Ebola patients
Efforts to find a cure for Ebola have allegedly multiplied as the current epidemic in West Africa does not seem to be decreasing in intensity. The available resources which include a tested vaccine and experimental drugs like ZMapp will not be mass-produced in the immediate future. Desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures, as they say. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has thus flashed the green light for the use of the viral infection survivors’ blood to combat the virus propagation. Before WHO came to such a decision, heated discussions occurred at a conference in Geneva attended by 200 health experts. While some researchers approve of the blood transfusion idea, others are of the opinion that the decision was made purely based on emotion than scientific proof.
Blood serums used to cure patients of infectious diseases in 1890
The blood of the survivors are said to contain antibodies capable of fighting the deadly virus. Therefore, if these antibodies are fed into infected people, the virus might be eliminated. This method of tranfusion was used in the past when antibiotics and vaccines were not yet developed. Perhaps, it might work now too? It was first used in 1890 by Nobel prize winner Emil von Behring who used blood serum as treatment for diphtheria. From then on, many other diseases were tackled by way of transfusion, like scarlet fever and measles. Is this enough of an argument to use this method now to fight Ebola? Is the situation that desperate, specially in an era where technological and scientific research have reached unprecedented levels?
1995: Ebola patients treated with transfusion resulting in one dead
This would not be the first time for Ebola either. In 1995, 8 Ebola patients were administered with the blood serum. Only one of these died after having received the tranfusion — the reason of his death has so far remained obscure. This is attested to in a study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
The controversy of using blood transfusion
Do these results dating back to nearly 20 years ago constitute positive signs that the same method can be used now, or should the researchers be wary because of the one death that occurred after the blood transfusion? Controversial question.