The World Health Organization says clinical evidence shows two monoclonal antibody treatments are effective at saving the lives of many people stricken with the deadly Ebola virus.

The action follows a systematic review and analysis of randomized clinical trials of therapeutics for the disease.

WHO Team Lead for Clinical Care Janet Diaz says the evidence underpinning the recommendations comes from two clinical trials. The largest was done in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2018 and 2019.

She says the trials were conducted during Ebola outbreaks, demonstrating quality control trials can be done even under the most difficult circumstances.

“The evidence synthesis that informs this guideline shows that mAb114 and Regeneron-EB3 reduced mortality. The relative risk reduction was about 60 percent…Between 230 to 400 lives saved per 1,000 patients. Translate that into the number needed to treat, you treat two to four patients, and you save one life.”

Ebola hemorrhagic fever is spread through blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died of the disease. The worst Ebola outbreak occurred in West Africa between 2014 and 2016. Of the nearly 29,000 reported cases, more than 11,300 people died.

Diaz calls the development of monoclonal antibody therapeutics a very important advancement. However, she notes the drug itself is not the only solution. She says it must be given in a comprehensive, clinical setting along with other treatments.

“That includes early diagnosis so that treatments can be given as soon as possible and also the implementation of appropriate infection prevention and control to stop transmission…and treatment of co-infections and access to nutrition, psycho-social support, and, of course, access to care after discharge.”

Diaz says the two recommended therapeutics have shown clear benefits for people of all ages. She says they can be used on all patients confirmed positive for Ebola virus disease. That, she says, includes older people, pregnant and breastfeeding women, children, and babies born to mothers with confirmed Ebola within the first seven days after birth.

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