Fresh hope appears in the horizon for Ebola patients as Japan on Monday expressed its readiness to provide its anti-influenza drug as treatment for the deadly virus.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, made the offer hours after a group of scientist in the United Kingdom said it had discovered that the largest outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease was caused by an infected fruit bat that bit a toddler.
Briefing journalists in Tokyo on Monday, Suga said Japan was ready to offer the drug, Favipiravir, which was developed by Toyama Chemical, a subsidiary of Fujifilm, any time the World Health Organisation requested it.
Approved by the Japanese health ministry in March, Favipiravir is a tablet developed for the treatment of novel and re-emerging influenza viruses.
Suga, according to the Agence France Presse, said Japan was waiting for WHO’s decision on further details over the use of untested drugs.
He however said that “in case of an emergency, Japan may respond to individual requests before any further decision by the WHO.”
The spokesperson for the company, Takao Aoki, said Fujifilm had initiated talks with the United States on how the drug could be adopted in treating EVD.
He said, “Fujifilm is in talks with the US Food and Drug Administration on clinical testing of the drug in treating Ebola, The company has Favipiravir stock for more than 20,000 patients. Ebola and influenza viruses are the same type and theoretically similar effects can be expected on Ebola,” he said.
It was however not known as of Thursday last week if Favipiravir is the drug the Federal Ministry of Health had said it had requested from a foreign country.
The ministry which turned down a trial drug, Nano Silver, had applied for ZMapp which was administered on two US aid workers who contracted the virus in Liberia.
The two were discharged last Thursday, a few days after Washington said it did not have enough XMapp to send to countries in need of it.
ZMapp fails Liberian doctor (more news)
However, a Liberian doctor , Abraham Borbor, has died despite taking ZMapp, according to a statement by the Liberia’s information minister, Lewis Brown.
Borbor was one of three doctors in Liberia who had been given ZMapp and was showing signs of recovery.
“Borbor was showing signs of improvement but on Sunday, he took a turn for the worse,” Brown told the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government on Monday reversed the number of confirmed EVD cases in Nigeria from 14 to 13.
Health Minister, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, said while briefing journalists in Abuja that the development followed the outcome of a further confirmation test conducted on the 14th case, which turned out to be negative.
He also said another patient in the isolation centre in Lagos had after receiving treatment tested negative.
The patient, according to him, will be dicharged before Wednesday.
He said the development would bring from four to two, the number of patients still in the isolation ward.
The minister added that the number of deaths recorded so far in the country as a result of the disease still remained five, including the Late Patrick Sawyer, who brought the EVD to Nigeria from Liberia.
Chukwu said, “We have been able to manage and discharge five persons who had tested positive to the deadly virus, while the sixth person would be dicharged within the next 48 hours.
“For each case that tested negative, we run further confirmatory tests to make sure that anybody that is labelled as EVD victim, is truly having the disease.
“The 14th case has turned out to be negative in terms of anaemia and symptoms, so that has now reversed number of EVD cases in Nigeria from 14 to 13 and that includes the index case (Sawyer).
“As of today (Monday), we have three patients receiving treatment in the isolation ward in Lagos but certainly, before Wednesday, one of them would be discharged because he has tested negative and we are now concluding his discharge process.”
The ministry also denied reports (The PUNCH not included) which claimed that the younger sister of the late Dr. Stella Adadevoh, had tested positive to the EVD.
The minister’s Special Adviser on Media and Communications, Dan Nwomeh, said on Monday that no new patient had been admitted into the treatment centre in Lagos.
He said, “We are not aware of that development, but to avoid any confusion, Minister of Health reiterates that he has the sole authority to announce confirmed and discharged EVD cases.
“Any doubtful information on the outbreak of EVD should be verified from the office of the minister , we are on all social media platforms.”
A group of 17 UK-based European and African scientists have found out that the largest outbreak of the EVD was caused by an infected fruit bats that bit a toddler.
The tropical disease researchers, ecologists and anthropologists had spent three weeks investigating the outbreak of the disease in Nigeria, Guinea, Liberia and Ivory Coast.
According to the Daily Mail, the scientists captured some bats and other creatures near the village of Meliandoua in Guinea, where the present epidemic began last year in December.
According to the scientists, the toddler, who was bitten by a fruit bat passed the infection on to his mother and both died within a week.
The disease was then spread far and wide by mourners who attended their funeral.
Scientists have long believed that bats are the main carriers for the disease but it is rare for them to pass it on to man.
Most of the previous outbreaks have been caused by meat from dead infected animals collected by hunters who then sell it on.
Fruit bats, however, are widely eaten in some rural areas of West Africa – either smoked, grilled or in a spicy soup.
The team led by epidemiologist Fabian Leendertz, a disease ecologist at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, are expected to publish their results in a major journal soon.
Initial research believed that a new strain of Ebola had emerged in West Africa but according to Herr Leendertz, the strain of the disease is one related to Zaire ebolavirus, identified more than 10 years ago in the Congo