Experimental Ebola treatments should be utilized worldwide

Opinions Columnist | Journalism junior

Experimental drugs and vaccinations should be used in Africa to help those who are infected or may become infected with the Ebola virus.

The 2014 outbreak of Ebola is the largest ever, killing more than half of those who become infected. Some African countries have even declared a state of emergency, while those left unaffected by the virus have shut down borders to their neighboring countries that are infected. To me, this more than warrants the importation of experimental drugs and vaccinations.

An Aug. 20 Science News article states that the few medical workers who are willing to work with infected patients are now leaving the field as the chances of becoming infected increase. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that so far 240 health workers have been infected, half of whom have died. More and more health workers essential to the cause are now calling it quits after seeing their colleagues become ill. Some infected areas, such as Sierra Leone, have been left with only one or two doctors per 100,000 patients. If vaccinations were offered, even if they are experimental, health workers might be encouraged to stay. The comfort of knowing treatment is an option may be enough to keep health workers positive.

With death tolls already surpassing 1,900, now is the time to take the chance and use an experimental treatment. If the patient consents, their life could be saved. With a mortality rate greater than 50 percent, I assume many would at least like the option of trying a drug that could potentially help them. I know that I would.

Additionally, experimental drugs may have already helped patients. Two infected Americans received a treatment drug, and both survived. While we will never know if the patients would have recovered on their own, they had the opportunity and took it. Survival after the vaccination is not always the case, but the chance that it may save a life is enough for me to support it.

According to the same Aug. 20 Science News article, the use of experimental treatments has also recently been supported by the WHO, who said earlier this month that the health emergency was not under control. If the WHO is backing experimental treatments and vaccinations, the public, as well as those infected or at risk of becoming infected, should consider it. The Ebola outbreak being declared an emergency is no joke. Any chance at a cure and preventative that we have should be taken advantage of.

Experimental drugs and vaccinations should be imported to the countries in Africa who are suffering, and people should be open to trying them to fight against Ebola. Canada has donated a small amount of experimental vaccines already, and the U.S. will follow shortly. In the end, lives can be saved.