Russian president Vladimir Putin has announced that his nation’s scientists have developed an effective anti-Ebola treatment. The validity of this claim, however, remains in doubt since he has not provided any further details, scientific publications, or even stated if this is a treatment or vaccine.
State-operated news agency RIA Novosti quoted Putin as saying “we have good news” as he revealed that “we have registered a drug against Ebola, which after the corresponding tests has been shown to be highly effective, more effective than the drugs used worldwide up to now.”
The brevity of this statement raises a number of questions, and until more is known about the nature of this supposed possible vaccine, as well as how clinical trials were conducted, many will have their doubts about Putin’s surprising assertion.
His claims came as the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Ebola crisis in West Africa over, after no new infections were reported in the past 42 days. However, several countries in the region, including Liberia and Sierra Leone, have previously reached this milestone, only for the virus to later reappear. Therefore, while the news is undoubtedly positive, it is worth bearing in mind that the affected countries are not entirely out of the woods just yet.
The Ebola crisis has claimed the lives of over 11,300 people in West Africa since the outbreak began in December 2013. Several attempts to develop a vaccine have been documented over the past two years, with some showing potential during clinical trials, although none have been approved as an effective treatment for the virus.
Among the most promising of these was a vaccine that appeared to offer 100 percent protection against infection, yet scientists have yet to develop a technique for actually curing those who have already contracted the disease. Most recently, the first studies using the blood of Ebola survivors to treat sufferers yielded disappointing results.
As such, there remains a need for an effective vaccine for the virus, and if Putin's claim turns out to be legitimate, efforts to ensure Ebola does not return to West Africa could receive a significant boost.