Ebola Patient Gets Experimental Drug

27 August 2014, 11:32

Doctors in North London, who are treating a British nurse with Ebola, say the next few days will be "crucial."

William Pooley, who is being cared for at the Royal Free Hospital, has been given the experimental drug ZMapp, which was successfully used to treat two American aid workers who also had the virus.

Describing him as a "resilient and remarkable young man", medics said he was sitting up, reading and chatting to staff.

The 29-year-old volunteer nurse was flown back to the UK for emergency treatment after contracting the virus in Sierra Leone.

Dr Michael Jacobs, consultant and clinical lead in infectious diseases at the hospital, confirmed he had been given a first dose of the drug on Monday (August 25) with more to follow "in due course".

He said: "It is an experimental medicine, we made that absolutely clear in our discussions with him.

"We thought there was sufficient reason to offer it to him and have the discussion. He considered his options very, very carefully.

"He wanted to weigh up what we knew about it and he came to the very clear conclusion in his own mind that he would like to go ahead with the treatment."

He said it was "too early" to say what impact the drug has had but added: "Pleasingly, it seems to have had no side effects at all."

Dr Jacobs said they had acquired the ZMapp through the hospital's "clinical networks" and cited support they received from "international colleagues".

Mr Pooley was said to be in "remarkably good spirits given the situation he finds himself in".

Dr Jacobs said: "He is sitting up in bed talking, reading and chatting to the nurses. What has become apparent to us is that he is clearly a rather resilient and remarkable young man.

"Will is in a stable position and we are very pleased with where he is. It would be fair to say we couldn't hope to be in a better place today given how far he is into the illness."

However, he cautioned that the disease has a "variable course" and the coming days will be "crucial".

"It is difficult for us to predict what is going to happen to him," the doctor said. "The next few days are very important.

"We are going to observe him very closely. We will know a lot more about where we are up to in about a week's time."

He said public health officials had contingency plans in place for the "unlikely" scenario that another patient needs treatment for Ebola in the UK.

Mr Pooley, who comes from the small village of Eyke in Suffolk, was airlifted back to Britain by a specially equipped C17 RAF jet, and is being treated in a specialist isolation ward at the hospital in Hampstead.

There is no known cure for Ebola, which is transmitted through sweat, blood and saliva.

The World Health Organisation says that more than 2,500 people have been killed by the latest outbreak in West Africa, where the fatality rate stands at 90% if it goes untreated.