The two American missionaries infected with Ebola in Liberia have received an experimental serum, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, one of the county's top infectious disease experts.
Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol of Samaritan's Purse took the experimental treatment in Liberia, and Brantly reportedly saw his condition reverse within the hour.
However Fauci told Here & Now's Robin Young that he's skeptical of so-called "medical miracles."
CNN's Sanjay Gupta, who is an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Emory University School of Medicine, first reported on the results of the serum, which had only been tested in monkeys previously.
Brantly is now being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, and Writebol is expected to arrive for treatment there tomorrow.
Fauci said a vaccine is also being developed. He said human trials should begin in September, and a vaccine could be ready for market by the end of 2015.
More than 1,300 people have been stricken by Ebola in West Africa, and nearly 730 have died in Guinea, Liberia and Sierre Leone.
Interview Highlights: Anthony Fauci
On the reports of the miraculous recovery
"We really have to be careful about reports of rapid miraculous turnarounds because, remember, you're dealing with a single patient. The reports that effects were seen within 20 minutes, that's not usually how antibodies work. I just want to add just a little bit of skepticism to that."
On the serum the two American missionaries were given
"An antibody is a protein that your body makes that fights against infections in general. So, if you get vaccinated against anything — flu, or measles, or whatever — your body will make antibodies that hopefully will protect you if you're exposed. What Dr. Brantly and Ms. Writebol got was a cocktail of what we call monoclonal antibodies — or a group of these proteins, these antibodies, that have been produced outside of the body. They've been produced in an experimental way to allow one to then take those antibodies and actually directly administer them to the patient. So instead of getting a vaccine they should give to somebody so that their own body will make the antibodies, you're actually directly infusing the antibodies into the person."
On how close we are to finding a vaccine
"We've developed a vaccine that is highly effective in a monkey model. If you vaccinate monkeys and challenge them with Ebola you can protect virtually 100 percent of them with a vaccine. We're going to go into phase one clinical trials in humans in mid-September. If, in fact, it is safe and it induces response, we may have one available for limited use by the end of 2015."
On how to deal with the epidemic until a vaccine is readily available
"You can shut the epidemic off if you isolate people and break the chain of transmission. There are customs and traditions in those nations that compound the problem and make it worse. People are reluctant and sometimes, understandably, afraid to bring their relatives or their loved ones to a hospital because, as far as they're concerned, most of the people that come into the hospital die. Which is the truth because of the high mortality. They keep the patient at home and infect everyone in the family... If we could interrupt that cycle, you can shut this outbreak off without a vaccine."
- Anthony Fauci, M.D., immunologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.
This segment aired on August 4, 2014.
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