The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged $5.7m towards a programme to increase production of experimental Ebola treatments in Guinea and other affected countries. The programme will focus on treatments derived from the blood of survivors. The foundation also said the grant would be used to evaluate new experimental drugs. More than 5,000 people have died in the current Ebola outbreak – almost all of them in West Africa.
There is currently no licensed treatment or vaccine for the Ebola virus. Hospital treatment is based on giving patients intravenous fluids to stop dehydration and antibiotics to fight infections. There are however several experimental vaccines and drug treatments for Ebola under development, but these have not yet been fully tested for safety or effectiveness. The medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres is to start clinical trials of some of these treatments in West Africa in December.