(The Guardian – Sarah Boseley/Freetown) Ebola patients at a treatment centre in Sierra Leone have been given a heart drug that is untested against the virus in animals and humans, a move that has been deemed reckless by one senior scientist and has prompted UK medical staff at the centre to leave.
A 14-strong team of British doctors, nurses and paramedics stopped working at the Lakka treatment centre in Freetown because of their concerns over what they considered the experimental and potentially dangerous use of the drug, and other safety issues.
The 22-bed treatment centre is run by Emergency, an Italian NGO set up by heart surgeon Gino Strada to bring world-class cardiac surgery to some of the poorest parts of Africa.
Emergency says it wants to give patients the standard of care they would get in Europe, both at its Ebola treatment centre (ETC) at Lakka and at a new 100-bed centre at Goderich in Freetown, built by the British army and funded by the Department for International Development (DfID).
But UK volunteers sent to work in Lakka in late November felt Emergency’s approach was too ambitious and may have contributed to a death rate higher than at some other centres.
Emergency has stopped using the drug, amiodarone, after a request from DfID, which had been alerted by the British medics. It says it is planning a formal trial. (read more)