The Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield, has debunked the claim that the United States refused to help Nigeria with some doses of a trial anti-Ebola vaccine, when the country witnessed her first epidemic outbreak.
It would be recalled that the Minister of health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu had turned on the US for some portion of a trial drug used in treating the two American missionaries who got infected with the Ebola virus infection, while caring for infected patients at Liberia.
The trial drug, known has Zmapp had shown promising signs as a likely cure for Ebola as the 2 patients had responded positively and recovered from the infection.
At a courtesy visit to the Minister of health yesterday, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield explained that the doses were very few and used up, which was why it was not made available to Nigeria.
In her words, “That is not correct; I think the Centre for Disease Control has proactively supported all the countries in the West African region in dealing with the situation. It is not about Zmapp. There were six doses of Zmapp available; they were all used. What is important is how to control the spread of the disease. And, that is exactly what is being done here in Nigeria; and efforts are being made to have the same kind of success in Liberia.”
Nigerians have increasingly become agitated, as the hope for arrival of Zmapp was high while some health workers and primary contacts to the index case of Ebola in Nigeria were on the verge of death.
Many had also taken to the social media, accusing the US of shunning Nigeria at such a crucial time when the fear of the world’s deadliest disease was high, as they twitted messages with different hash tag, urging the US to give out Zmaap, while some top Ebola experts had questioned why the trial anti-Ebola drug was not forthcoming.
The Ambassador also commended Nigeria on swift response and efforts made so far towards containing the dreaded disease.
Greenfield said concern was more for Liberia, Sierra Leon and Guinea, adding that world team of medical experts has been working round the clock to see how the epidemic could be c controlled.
She said, “We are very concerned about the spread of the Ebola disease in Liberia, Sierra Leone and in Guinea. Efforts have been made proactively, every single day, with the support of Centre for Disease Control, World Health Organization, WHO, medical community around, continent of African and around the world, to support the efforts to contain the outbreaks in these countries.”
Prof. Chukwu also commended the US Center for Disease Control for its support on the control of the Ebola disease in Nigeria, adding that the US had supported with anti-Ebola materials, while working with Nigerian medical experts.
“Even if you go remotely, part of the infrastructure we have in Nigeria was because US CDC worked with Nigeria to get them established. So, we are grateful to the government of United States; and the support continues to come in”, he added.
The Minister further said containing Ebola was not only about Zmapp, as Nigeria has been able to successfully treat Ebola without the trial vaccine.
“You talked about Zmapp; the explanation has come why that was impossible. But, we’ve done also well without Zmapp. Eight patients have been successfully managed and discharged. The point is that it is not all about Zmapp”, he affirmed.