Liberian doctor who received last dose of experimental Ebola drug dies

Canada works on new vaccine as supplies of untested ZMapp run out

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 August, 2014, 9:23pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 August, 2014, 12:47am

A Liberian doctor who received one of the last known doses of an experimental Ebola drug has died, officials said.

ZMapp had been tried in only six people. It was never tested in humans, and health experts do not know whether it works.

The supply is now said to be exhausted and it is expected to be months before more can be produced.

Dr Abraham Borbor, the deputy chief medical doctor at Liberia's largest hospital, had received ZMapp, along with two other Liberians.

He "was showing signs of improvement but yesterday he took a turn for the worse", and died on Sunday, Information Minister Lewis Brown said. There was no update on the other two Liberians who received the drug.

Earlier, it had been given to two American aid workers and a Spanish missionary priest, who died after he left Liberia. After receiving rigorous medical care in the US, the Americans survived the virus that has killed about half of its victims.

Ebola has left more than 1,400 people dead across West Africa.

Separately, Canada said it had yet to send out an untested vaccine that the government is donating.

The experimental vaccines are still at a Canadian laboratory, said Patrick Gaebel, spokesman for the Public Health Agency of Canada. He declined to speculate how many weeks it could be before those were given to volunteers.

"We are now working with the [World Health Organisation] to address complex regulatory, logistical and ethical issues so that the vaccine can be safely and ethically deployed as rapidly as possible," Gaebel said.

Earlier this month, Canada said it would donate 800 to 1,000 doses of an Ebola vaccine that it had developed. Likely candidates to receive the vaccine include health care workers treating Ebola patients.

Meanwhile, the family of 29-year-old William Pooley, the first British citizen confirmed to be infected with Ebola, said that he was receiving excellent care at an isolation ward in London's Royal Free Hospital after being evacuated from the capital of Sierra Leone.

"We could not ask for him to be in a better place," they said in a statement.

Pooley, a volunteer nurse, was flown back to Britain from Sierra Leone where he was working at an Ebola treatment centre.

The WHO is also trying to evacuate a Senegalese doctor who contracted Ebola while working in Sierra Leone.