Obama Resists Fast-Tracking Ebola Drug, But New Test Cleared
While President Obama recently says he's not ready to share any Ebola drugs with West Africa, the FDA is attempting to get a vaccine fast-tracked.By Jake Godin | August 6, 2014
The same day that President Obama told reporters at a U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit that the he wasn't ready to share any experimental Ebola treatments with West Africa, the FDA has approved a diagnostic test for the devastating virus.
"I think we gotta let the science guide us, and you know I don't think all the information is in on whether this drug is helpful." (Video via C-SPAN)
The drug Obama is talking about is called ZMapp and it was used to treat two Americans infected with Ebola before they were brought back to the States from West Africa.
According to WebMD, ZMapp takes a long time to produce partly because of the the weeks it takes to grow its ingredients. That, combined with it's lack of FDA approval, means it's not quite ready for mass production.
But even with Obama's announcement, it appears the FDA at least fast-tracked a diagnostic test for the virus.
The Los Angeles Times reports that a previously unapproved Ebola test has been authorized by the FDA under a "special emergency-use provision" — although an actual vaccine is still a ways off with officials saying one won't be available until 2015.
The diagnostic test is meant to detect the Zaire strain of Ebola, the same one that has infected more than 1,700 and killed as many as 932 people in Sierra Leon, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria.
A statement provided to health care workers by the FDA says it was authorized because, "At this time, no FDA-approved/cleared tests that identify the existence of the Ebola Zaire virus ... in clinical specimens are available."
A new test is definitely a good start, but are there any treatments besides ZMapp on the horizon?
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services released a statement saying that the National Institutes of Health is working on developing one and it's "aiming to launch phase 1 clinical trials ... in the fall."
The statement also said that two other companies, Tekmira and Biocryst Pharmaceuticals, are being funded by the Department of Defense to develop therapeutic treatments while a third, Newlink, is working on a vaccine.
This video includes images from Getty Images.