Updated 05:05 AM EST, Sun, Dec 05, 2021

Ebola Outbreak 2014 Update: Priest with Ebola Dies in Madrid, WHO OK's Use of Experimental Drugs

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The first European victim of the latest outbreak of Ebola virus died after being taken to a hospital in Madrid, Spain. Father Miguel Pajares contracted the virus while working in Liberia. Pajares received the experimental Ebola virus drug ZMapp, but it didn't save him. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) followed his death with a declaration that the experimental drug would be supplied to African nations without the further need for advanced testing. ZMapp is still in experimental stages and in very short supply.

"No proven cure or vaccine exists for the Ebola virus, which the World Health Organization says has killed 1,013 people in four West African countries--Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone," reported the New York Times. "Around half of the people infected in the outbreak, first reported in March, have died."

The WHO will hold another meeting later to discuss how to dispense the drug to the African countries most affected by the disease. The problem now is that there are still hundreds infected with the virus and not enough ZMapp to go around. Ultimately, other experimental drugs might be used, but they are also in very short supply, health officials say.

Pajares, who was 75 years old, experienced labored breathing before he died Tuesday morning. "The important thing is that the news has served to spread the word about what's happening in Africa, and it's important that the message of Miguel remains as a testimony of the mission he served," the priest's nephew, Javier Pajares, told Spain's El Pais newspaper.  

Pajares, a Catholic priest,  had been based at St Joseph's hospital in Monrovia, Liberia's capital. 

Now that the use of experimental drugs has been OK'd, the larger issue at hand is who gets the drug. Some of the things the upcoming WHO panel will discuss include: what stage(s) of infection respond best to experimental treatment; what are the side effect risks for patients given drugs like ZMapp, and what is the percentage of effectiveness of ZMapp so far--can it save at least half of those it is given to?

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