The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday endorsed the use of untested drugs to treat Ebola virus as ethical, hours after the death of a Spanish priest who was injected with the top secret serum used to treat infected American missionaries.
The priest, Miguel Pajares, 75, was the first person to die on European soil. However, the Spanish Health Ministry did not confirm nor deny whether Pajares was administered with the drug, citing confidentiality rules, The New York Times reported.
More than 1,000 people have died from the outbreak in West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. Because of the uncontrollable outbreak, the WHO’s panel of ethicists unanimously approved that it is ethical to offer the medication against Ebola virus even though its effects are not yet unknown, CNN reported.
“The large number of people affected by the 2014 west Africa outbreak, and the high case-fatality rate, have prompted calls to use investigational medical interventions to try to save the lives of patients and to curb the epidemic,” WHO said.
“In the particular circumstances of this outbreak, and provided certain conditions are met, the panel reached consensus that it is ethical to offer unproven interventions with as yet unknown efficacy and adverse effects, as potential treatment or prevention.”
Ebola has no known cure or vaccine; containing the virus in West Africa has been difficult because of the lack of facilities and instruments, add to that the dense population in the cities.
According to the WHO, the virus has infected at least 1,848 people and killed 1,013, making this the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, CNN reported.