A Cuban doctor infected with the deadly Ebola virus in Sierra Leone is improving after treatment with experimental drugs, the Geneva hospital where he is being treated said on Tuesday.
“We have noted a significant improvement in his physical and clinical condition,” said Jerome Pugin, head doctor at the Geneva University Hospital (HUG)’s intensive care unit.
Felix Baez Sarria was admitted to HUG last Friday, and is being cared for in a special, isolated sector of the hospital, amid tight security measures.
The 43-year-old doctor was one of about 165 Cuban medics working in Sierra Leone to try to stem the outbreak that has killed nearly 5,500 people and infected 15,351, mainly in west Africa, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization.
“He is no longer running a fever, he is eating normally and was able to sit up normally in his chair yesterday,” Pugin told reporters.
Laurent Kaiser, head of HUG’s virology lab, meanwhile said that blood samples from Sarria “have also improved significantly,” showing a clear drop in virus concentration levels in the patient’s blood.
He predicted that within a few days the Cuban doctor would no longer be infectious.
Sarria has been receiving experimental treatments based on ZMab, a first-generation antibody cocktail resembling ZMapp, provided by hospitals in Paris, HUG said.
He is also being treated with favipiravir, usually used against influenza, which WHO experts have pinpointed as promising for human trials in the fight against Ebola.
“We have the impression that these drugs have improved the virological and clinical evolution,” Kaiser said.
HUG, which is one of two Swiss hospitals where potential Ebola vaccines are being tested on volunteers, agreed to take Sarria upon request from WHO, which is also based in Geneva.
Cuba has played a large role in intensifying global efforts to fight the outbreak in the three worst-hit countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, sending around 250 nurses and doctors to the region with another 450 to come.
The Local, November 25, 2014