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Experimental Ebola drugs approved by WHO

US company sends all available supplies of experimental drug ZMapp to Africa as other potential drugs move rapidly towards clinical trials.

Geneva (AFP) - The World Health Organization (WHO) has authorised the use of experimental drugs to fight Ebola as the death toll topped 1,000 and a Spanish priest became the first European to succumb to the outbreak. 

The declaration by the WHO, the UN's health agency, came Tuesday after a US company that makes anexperimental serum called ZMapp said it had sent all its available supplies to hard-hit west Africa. 
UN chief Ban Ki-moon announced plans to step up the global response to the outbreak, while urging governments to "avoid panic and fear" over an easily-preventable disease
The epidemic, the worst since Ebola was first discovered four decades ago, has killed 1,013 people since early this year. 
Cases have so far been limited to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which account for the bulk of victims, and Nigeria with three deaths. 
Terror has gripped the impoverished west African countries ravaged by the disease, with harrowing tales emerging of people being shunned by their villages as the virus fells those around them. 
When AFP visited the Liberian village of Ballajah, some 150 kilometres from the capital Monrovia, 12-year-old Fatu Sherrif had been locked away with her mother's body without food and water for a week.
 

Her cries went unanswered as panicked residents fled the village when both her parents fell sick. 

Fatu later died and her brother Barnie, 15, despite testing negative for Ebola, was left alone and hungry in anabandoned house. 

"Nobody wants to come near me and they know -- people told them that I don't have Ebola," he told AFP.

- Promising vaccines -

Elderly Spanish priest Miguel Pajares, who became infected while helping patients in Liberia, died in a Madrid hospital on Tuesday, five days after being evacuated. 

He had been treated with ZMapp, which failed to save him but has shown positive effects on two US aid workers also infected in Liberia.... 

There is currently no available cure or vaccine for Ebola, which the WHO has declared a global public healthemergency, and the use of experimental drugs has stoked a fierce ethical debate

Despite promising results for the ZMapp treatment, made by private US company Mapp Biopharmaceutical, it had only been tested previously on monkeys. 

ZMapp is also in very short supply and the company said it had sent all available doses to west Africa free of charge, after an outcry over its use on foreign aid workers. The WHO was told three doses were sent to Liberia. 

While the ZMapp stock has been exhausted for now, there are other "potential therapies and vaccines... consideredvery serious alternatives" and possible vaccines are moving rapidly towards clinical trials

Plenty of drugs have been developed "to a point", but companies have not footed the bill for expensive clinical trials as the virus was "typically a disease of poor people in poor countries where there is no market". 

Drastic containment measures have caused transport chaos, price hikes and food shortages, and are stoking fears that people could die of hunger. 

Numerous countries around the globe have imposed emergency measures, including flight bans and improved health screenings

Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma meanwhile expressed his "utter dismay" at the "slow pace" of theinternational community in responding to the outbreak

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