Successful Ebola drug trials – a reason to Breathe a sigh of relief?


Two Ebola drugs show good effect. This is one of the “best news of the last few years,” says epidemiologist Maximilian Gertler. At the outbreak in the Congo, it lacked but especially on the trust of the population.

Deutsche Welle: Mr. Gertler, in the midst of the Ebola epidemic in the Congo, researchers report promising results in drugs tests. Two funds have increased the chance of Survival of Ebola-Infected significantly. And we can say the message of the World Health Organization (WHO) of a breakthrough?

Maximilian Gertler: in terms of therapeutics, it is clearly one of the best news of the last few years.

Maximilian Gertler is a tropical disease specialist and epidemiologist. For “Doctors without borders” he was, among other things, five years ago, in Guinea, in the Ebola-use.

The are also good news for the Ebola epidemic in the Congo?

It will definitely help to treat patients better. But in the case of the outbreak that we are currently seeing in Eastern Congo and the still not under control – we need preventive measures. The population needs to be shifted to the centre, and in the planning of the measures involved.

Why is the outbreak still not under control?

In the case of the current epidemic in Eastern Congo, we see every week, 60 to 100 new cases. This is not something we knew before. This is very troubling. A year after the start of the relief measures, we have almost 3000 patients and to the 2000 Deceased. This is unacceptably high. The same applies to the mortality rate of 67 percent.

About five percent of the cases involve employees of health care in the Region. Of course this is disastrous, because it means that the people are trained in some places apparently still unprotected or not sufficiently.

The outbreak in Goma, a city of almost two million inhabitants, directly on the border to Rwanda. These cases show very clearly that we have the spread of the disease in the handle, and may still be new challenges waiting for us.

  • Ebola – fear of faster spread

    First infections in the city

    The message of the first Ebola cases in the city of Goma in the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is disturbing. In densely populated areas, it falls to the deadly Virus especially easy to spread rapidly. Women and children are particularly vulnerable; weak organisms are more susceptible to infection with Ebola.

  • Ebola – fear of faster spread

    Cross-Border Risk

    Ebola is highly contagious, makes any national borders. So the concern that the spread of the deadly virus in Rwanda, its geographical proximity to Goma because of the particularly large. Briefly, therefore, the border crossing was closed. Uganda has been affected: In the neighboring country of Congo, the first people are also sick.

  • Ebola – fear of faster spread

    War and poor infrastructure

    Medical assistants to go to their limits, the spread of the virus to contain, and provide for the Sick. The tense political situation and armed conflicts in some regions of the Republic, however, hinder the fight against Ebola for aid workers. But also the poor infrastructure and the distrust of the population exacerbate the crisis.

  • Ebola – fear of faster spread

    The first symptoms

    The first symptoms of the Ebola-Infected high fever, head and body aches – are similar to those of a flu. In the course of the disease, internal bleeding and organ failure – the result: the death of the patient. A person is infected, are limited treatment options. In order to protect the fellow human beings, appeal to the authorities to the population: report, don’t hide!

  • Ebola – fear of faster spread

    Vaccination is the only protection

    Since 2015, there is a vaccine, according to WHO estimates, an “almost exact” effect. However, large parts of the population of the vaccination distrust, some even believe that the disease was a staging of the government, to get donations. Also, transportation is difficult, because the cooling chain of -80 degrees Celsius may be interrupted at any time.

  • Ebola – fear of faster spread

    Vaccinate – and more

    Organizations and volunteers are working at full speed to be faster than the Virus. Their prevention work goes far beyond the to Vaccinate in addition. In addition to the Distribute of protective suits and gloves is also training medical professionals and educating about the ways of Contracting and the proper Hygiene is essential.

  • Ebola – fear of faster spread

    Duty to Act

    Flowers for the dead: In West Africa, over 11,000 people lost 2014 and 2015, the fight against the deadly Virus. The Ebola outbreak in the Congo is the worst after the epidemic in West Africa – more than 1800 people lost since 2018 your life. Red alert: Now quick Action from politicians, Doctors and experts is in demand.

    Author: Antonia Kolberg

How do you see the situation directly on the spot?

The overall situation in Eastern Congo is a major challenge, since the General health care is weak, there is a lot of violence and little trust of the population in the relief efforts. We have seen how Ebola were threatened by the helper part and attacked Teams and treatment stations of the “Doctors without borders” have always been attacked again. From surveys we know that a significant part of the population holds Ebola is still a real danger, but sometimes even for a conspiracy.

That is, a lack of confidence is one of the main problems.

Clearly. We hear from our patients and the people with whom we are talking there very simple questions like: “Where were you half a year ago, as my child died of Malaria? Where was the help when our village was attacked the last Time?”

The worst case of this Ebola outbreak is from my point of view, the overall situation in the Eastern Congo, to is the this horrible epidemic is not yet added.

Could not help the positive drug trials, perhaps even to win the trust of the population?

The great news about the drugs is going to change the study location. And it is of course desirable that this development speaks to the confidence in the measures of the population grows, if it is known that there is an effective therapy.


But is that the key to fighting this epidemic, must only still show up. I believe that the confidence of the population in particular has suffered in recent years, including that there is hardly a reasonable health care that children die of treatable diseases such as Malaria, measles or respiratory diseases.

What could be, in your opinion, a solution?

I think you have the Ebola work into the General health care integration, and the latter must necessarily be improved. This is also the attitude of Doctors without borders. The health personnel must be trained, of course, and before Ebola infections are protected and you have to get the population involved in the planning of the measures, so that we can gain the trust of the people we want to protect against infection. I think, rather, than two new drugs, the solution lies there.

Why is Ebola so difficult?

The fight against Ebola was called in the first line “prevention of new cases and Cutting-off of the well-known chains of Infection”. That is to say: to keep track of The contact persons at an early stage lists, to to vaccinate and as soon as they become ill, to isolate you. But all of this of course requires trust of the population in the measures and in the organizations that Perform the.

This brings us, in particular, in the current epidemic We had a vaccine, we may have a therapeutic agent, but we do not see that we do not arrive with these weapons against the disease, because we can reach people even in a sufficient extent. Only if we succeed in that, we come clearly forward in the fight against Ebola.

Dr. med. Maximilian Gertler’s tropical medicine and epidemiologist at the Institute for tropical medicine and International health at the Charité hospital in Berlin and worked for “Doctors without borders”, among other things, five years ago, in Guinea, in the Ebola-use.

The Interview was conducted by Hannah Fox.

  • No Chance for viruses and bacteria with a strong immune system

    The Hustle And Bustle!

    The immune system needs many different fuels. Fruits and vegetables provide you. They feed as colorful: oranges, red peppers, green leafy vegetables, red cabbage provide a colorful Potpourri of vitamins and a great natural source of Vitamin C.

  • No Chance for viruses and bacteria with a strong immune system

    Vaccination status check!

    In order to bring the immune system up to the current state, you should have all the necessary vaccinations. Adults often forget the vaccinations from the Kinfheit refresh. So in the certificate of vaccination look: Is the immunization against Tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, Polio, Hepatitis, pneumococcal, Meningitis, measles, Mumps, rubella, influenza and other still in place? Best to ask the doctor!

  • No Chance for viruses and bacteria with a strong immune system

    The viruses run away.

    Scientific studies suggest that a regular exercise of the muscles (Jogging, Nordic Walking, go for a walk) starting at three times a week for 20 minutes, the defense is demonstrably increases. But beware: if you auspowert too much, exhausted immune system.

  • No Chance for viruses and bacteria with a strong immune system

    Strongly sleep!

    Adequate sleep not only ensures recovery. During the deep stages of sleep, neurotransmitters are released, which mobilise the immune system.

  • No Chance for viruses and bacteria with a strong immune system

    Have fun!

    Studies show that good mood and fun favor for life a strong immune system. Laugh and Play not bring more quality of life, but increase defenses!

  • No Chance for viruses and bacteria with a strong immune system

    Avoid Stress!

    Negative Stress stimulates the release of adrenaline and Cortisol. These hormones shut down the immune. A conscious Stress and time management contributes to the fact that the body comes to rest and new energy can refuel. Targeted relaxation exercises such as Meditation, autogenic Training, and Yoga can support the immune system significantly.

  • No Chance for viruses and bacteria with a strong immune system

    Go for a walk!

    Walks in the fresh air with changing temperature stimuli and movement – both of which stimulates the body’s defenses. In addition, the mucous membranes benefit from better blood circulation, thanks to the higher humidity you with virus attacks to make you feel better.

  • No Chance for viruses and bacteria with a strong immune system

    Beware Of Sugar!

    Studies have shown that Burning short-chain sugars, many vitamins are not consumed, the body then available.

  • No Chance for viruses and bacteria with a strong immune system

    Hot and Cold!

    “Exchange-showers” train the thermoregulation and the blood vessels. Warm-cold-warm-cold is the motto. You can support the shower by a vigorous Massage with a Massage sponge or a brush This stimulates the immune system in addition.