TIME ebola

There Are 53 Drugs That Could Treat Ebola

University of Utah Researchers Work Toward Cure For Ebola Strains
A container holds a Peptide that contains a potential new drug candidates for testing against a part of Ebola that is vulnerable to drugs, at the University of Utah on Oct. 14, 2014 in Salt Lake City. George Frey—Getty Images

New research raises prospect of treatments to be found in already available drugs

Scientists have identified 53 existing drugs that could be effective in fighting Ebola, according to newly published research.

There is currently no vaccine or drug available to treat the disease, which is one of the primary reasons the virus has been able to infect 18,603 people so far, and kill 6,915. A vaccine is undergoing clinical trials in humans, but a drug to treat people who already have the disease is critically needed. The experimental drug ZMapp has been used on a handful of Ebola patients, but resources of it are exhausted and it has not undergone adequate testing.

Running against the clock, some groups of scientists have decided that one of the most efficient ways to go about tackling the task of developing and distributing an Ebola drug is by screening drug compounds already available to see if any of those compounds could be used to create an effective drug.

MORE: Scientists Explore 10,000 Compounds for an Ebola Drug

In a new study published in the Nature Press journal Emerging Microbes and Infections, researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said they’ve identified 53 promising drug compounds. The team used high speed technology to scan through a library of 2,816 U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved compounds already used for other ailments. Their method, which uses a virus-like particle that contained Ebola proteins, was calibrated to identify drugs that could prevent Ebola from infecting human cells by 50%.

Among these 53 promising compounds are ones used in cancer drugs, antihistamines, antibiotics, and antidepressants.

The compounds will be tested in animals to see what effects they have on Ebola, as well as their side effects. If a drug is proven both safe and effective, the government may use it in Ebola zones.

As TIME reported in October, scientists at Emory University Hospital are taking a similar approach to their library of 10,000 drug compounds. They think it’s possible Ebola could be treated similarly to the the treatments they’ve developed for viruses like HIV and Hepatitis C.

TIME ebola

5 Million Kids Aren’t in School Because of Ebola

Schools closed in Sierra Leone after Ebola outbreak
A classroom of a school stands abandoned on Aug. 25, 2014 in Kenema, Sierra Leone. Schools closed and villages quarantined after dozens of its congregation died with Ebola symptoms. Mohammed Elshamy—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Children from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are still out of school. Here's what's being done

Public schools in Guinea have been closed since March. Schools in Sierra Leone and Liberia never opened after the summer holiday. All told, the children’s rights and emergency relief group UNICEF estimates that 5 million children ages 3 to 17 are out of school due to Ebola.

“This Ebola crisis has been predominantly seen as a health crisis but its implications go way beyond health,” says Sayo Aoki, an education specialist for UNICEF working in the affected countries. “It’s time we start looking at it from other perspectives, and education is part of that.”

Some schools were closed out of fear the disease could spread in large gatherings while others had no access to water, making handwashing impossible. But the longer a child stays out of school, the less likely it is he or she will return—which is why UNICEF is working closely with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health to come up with protocols necessary to implement in order to let children back into the classrooms. The draft—which calls for measures like Ebola screenings, hygiene requirements and a plan in the event a suspected case—is currently being reviewed by experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. and the World Health Organization.

MORE: TIME’s Person of the Year: Ebola Fighters

In the meantime, UNICEF and partner NGOs have trained out-of-work teachers to act as “social mobilizers,” going door to door to spread messages about how to identify Ebola and prevent its spread. UNICEF and partners are also using the radio programs to offer long-distance learning while kids are kept at home. “We are trying to make [the radio shows] simple and more interesting so children will get some learning,” says Aoki. “If they listen to it at a certain time of the day during the week, it gives them a routine they’ve lost from not going to school. It brings them a sense of normalcy, some sort of stability and hope.”

Stability has been largely destroyed for many children living in Ebola-affected countries. Many have seen family members, friends and neighbors get infected, and many have become orphans as well. Ebola has also changed social mores. “Nobody shakes hands in public,” says Aoki. “It has put a lot of stress on children. There’s no cuddling, no hugging, no kissing. The simple joys of life have been taken away.”

Even before Ebola, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia were economically troubled countries still emerging from conflict and civil war. Guinea and Liberia were in the process of increasing their school attendance numbers—Guinea was at 58% and Liberia was at 34%—and experts worry that Ebola has set progress back. School closures, including private schools, are also a bad economic indicator. Jeff Trudeau, the director of The American International School of Monrovia (AISM) told TIME in August that he lost more than half his expected students for the 2014 school year, many of whom were children of foreign families who moved to the region for jobs in Liberia’s burgeoning business sector. That school’s earliest possible start date is January and for others, there appear to be “moving” deadlines for reopening. Guinea is aiming for January while Liberia and Sierra Leone are hoping for March.

But all the countries will have to patiently wait until their caseloads are under control, since a premature opening may only add fuel to the fire.

TIME ebola

Massachusetts Doctor Cured of Ebola Will Return to Liberia

Richard Sacra
Former Ebola patient Dr. Richard Sacra participates in a news conference at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Neb., on Sept. 25, 2014. Nati Harnik—AP

Sacra plans to return to the same clinic where he contracted Ebola in August

(BOSTON) — A Massachusetts doctor cured of Ebola said Tuesday that he’s returning to Liberia, the West African country where he contracted the virus, in January to resume working at a medical mission.

Dr. Richard Sacra said that he plans to spend four weeks at ELWA Hospital, a clinic outside Monrovia where he had contracted the deadly virus in August.

Sacra spent weeks in treatment at an Omaha, Nebraska, hospital before returning home on Sept. 25. The University of Massachusetts Medical School faculty member has worked in medical missions in Liberia for more than 20 years, including the North Carolina-based charity SIM, which founded ELWA Hospital.

Sacra, who was one of at least 10 people so far treated for Ebola in the U.S., says he “feels great” and that doctors have said he’s now effectively immune to Ebola, which has no vaccine.

“I’m not hearing a lot of pushback from home,” Sacra said. “I’ve been working there for years, and my risk at this point is no different than it was before because I’m immune to Ebola.”

Sacra has said he’s not sure exactly when he became infected. He had been caring for pregnant women not suspected to have Ebola and delivering babies, including performing several cesarean sections.

He said ELWA Hospital, which stands for Eternal Love Winning Africa, has changed its protocols following his illness.

“Even if we haven’t suspected Ebola in that patient, we’re now wearing full protective gear at our facility for deliveries,” he said. “When we’re doing surgeries, we’re now getting bleached down at the end, which we weren’t doing before.”

Sacra, who expressed a desire to return to Liberia almost as soon as he recovered, made the comments following a Tuesday news conference at the Statehouse announcing a $1 million state grant to help develop a faster, more accurate test for diagnosing Ebola.

Gov. Deval Patrick said the investment, made through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, a quasi-public state agency, will assure the state and its major research institutions will play a central role in saving many lives from Ebola, which has killed 6,400 people during the most recent outbreak in West Africa.

TIME ebola

Here’s How Much the Next Ebola Will Cost Us

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Todd Pearson—Getty Images

Why saving the environment can help prevent it

The global community cannot withstand another Ebola outbreak: The World Bank estimates the two-year financial burden price tag of the current epidemic at $32.6 billion. Unfortunately, the virus has revealed gaping holes in our preparedness for major infectious disease epidemics. Because of these, plus the urbanization of rural communities and globalization of travel and trade, more of these epidemics are expected.

In a new report from the EcoHealth Alliance published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), experts estimate that the world will see about five new emerging infectious diseases each year and that we need new prevention strategies to cut economic losses.

Using economic modeling, the researchers analyzed two strategies. We’re familiar with the first, a business-as-usual approach that relies on global surveillance systems to track and identify new diseases emerging in people. The second strategy is what the researchers call “mitigation,” where global players go after what’s actually causing the emergence of unknown diseases.

MORE: TIME’s Person of the Year: Ebola Fighters

That’s considered the more economically prudent of the two options (though it’s not what we’re doing.) Even a mild disease outbreak can have big financial consequences. The report shows that the cost of an influenza pandemic ranges from $374 billion for a mild one to $7.3 trillion for one that’s severe. That figure also accounts for a 12.6% loss in gross domestic product and millions of lives lost. It’s a worst-case scenario, but not unimaginable, considering that the Ebola outbreak has already infected well over 18,000 people, and it’s not even an airborne virus.

Currently, our global health response is reactive. Once cases of an infectious disease are confirmed in a lab, various organizations from the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) send in specialists to start containing the disease. As the new report notes, this is too slow and often comes too late.

Pandemics are typically caused by diseases that emerge from animals and somehow make their way—via a bite or human consumption—into the human population. Therefore, the report authors argue that a viable economic option for containment is a strategy that addresses environmental changes like deforestation that contribute to the spread of infected animals, like bushmeat, bats or insects, into the human population. Some of the same commitments and strategies applied to fighting climate change could be applied to a joint infectious disease strategy.

MORE: 1 Million People Have A Disease You’ve Never Heard Of

The report highlights the USAID’s Emerging Pandemic Threats program PREDICT-2 project, which has poured resources into understanding what drives disease emergence and what human behaviors cause it to spread widely. The project also supports the “One Health” approach, which means working closely with physicians, ecologists and veterinarians to track and understand disease.

The researchers say widespread adoption of strategies like these should happen within 27 years to reduce the annual rise of emerging infectious disease events by 50%. The price tag? A one-time cost of approximately $343.7 billion. “Mitigation is a more cost-effective policy than business-as-usual adaptation programs, saving between $344.0.7 billion and $360.3 billion over the next 100 year if implemented today,” the authors write.

The cost versus benefit breakdown favors a plan such as this, but ultimately, the question will be who gets stuck with the tab. The authors of the report suggest taxes or partnering with industry, possibly the private sector, to fund systems like clinics and food supply chains. Those will reduce bushmeat consumption, make diagnostics faster, and hopefully help prevent some of the problems we’re currently facing with Ebola.

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: December 16

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Scores Killed in Taliban Attack

A Pakistani official says that more than 126 people have been killed, mostly schoolchildren, in a Taliban attack on a military-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar. Witnesses said gunmen stormed the school and started shooting at random

Who Was Man Haron Monis?

The Sydney hostage taker who died in a shootout has been identified as Man Haron Monis. The 50-year-old was being investigated for murder and sexual assault

Camille Cosby Defends Bill

The actor’s wife fiercely defended her husband in a statement Monday as outrage mounts over allegations he drugged and raped multiple women

29 Instagram Photos That Defined the World in 2014

TIME, in association with the photo-sharing app, takes a look back at the key moments of 2014: From the toll of war in Gaza to the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and from the border between Mexico and the U.S. all the way to Mongolia, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone

U.S. Surgeon General Confirmed Despite Gun-Control Support

The Senate confirmed Vivek Murthy as U.S. Surgeon General on Monday despite concerns he was underqualified and too outspoken on gun control to be the top spokesman on public-health matters. Illinois Senator Mark Kirk is the only Republican to confirm Murthy

Robin Williams Was Google’s Top Trending Search of 2014

The comedian and actor, who died in August, led the list of the people, places and things that got the biggest boost in search traffic this year compared to 2013. Williams topped a list that also included the World Cup, Ebola, ISIS and Flappy Bird

Tattooing Your Pet Is Now Illegal in N.Y.

Body art like tattoos and piercings on pet animals will soon be a crime across the state following a law passed on Monday. The law does make exceptions for markings made for identification or medical reasons, but those only include preapproved letters and numbers

Mother of Tamir Rice: He Had No Chance Against Police

Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy fatally shot by police who believed he was carrying a gun, said Monday that he was never given a chance to follow officers’ orders when they pulled up next to him on a Cleveland playground

Adrian Peterson, NFL Exec Suspension Discussion Leaked

The NFL’s executive vice president for football operations Troy Vincent appeared to tell Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson that he would only be suspended for two games, according to recordings of their conversation that surfaced on Monday

Ebola Coverage Has Been Dubbed ‘Lie of the Year’

Guess what spawned a “dangerous and incorrect narrative” in 2014? Fact-checking website PolitiFact says erroneous statements about the Ebola epidemic edged the U.S. “toward panic,” and led to misinformation and fear toward people thousands of miles away

London Crawling: Scientists Name Snail After Clash Singer

A new genus of snail has been named after Joe Strummer, leader of iconic British rock band The Clash, “because they look like punk rockers in the 70s and 80s and they have purple blood and live in such an extreme environment,” said researcher Shannon Johnson

66 Journalists Killed in 2014: Report

At least 66 journalists were killed across the globe this year while another 178 media workers were imprisoned, according to monitoring outlet Reporters Without Borders. The watchdog organization noted that attacks on journalists are becoming increasingly barbaric

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TIME World

Exclusive: 29 Instagrams That Defined the World in 2014

See some of the most powerful images shared on Instagram this year

As Instagram hit a milestone this month, with its number of monthly active users ballooning to 300 million, TIME, in association with the photo-sharing app, takes a look back at the key moments of 2014.

The selection of images, shared by some of Instagram’s most popular and respected photographers, offers an intimate view of some of the defining events of the year: From the toll of war in Gaza to the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and from the border between Mexico and the U.S. all the way to Mongolia, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone.

“Real moments are captured and posted on Instagram every single day, from Nana Kofi Acquah’s image of a Tanzanian doctor timing a baby’s labored breathing using his mobile phone, to Brendan Hoffman’s haunting first reactions upon arriving at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine,” says Pamela Chen, Instagram’s Editorial Director. “These are just a sampling of the powerful images shared by people around the world in 2014.”

Read next: The Top 10 Photos of 2014

TIME ebola

Here Is the Lie of the Year from PolitiFact

Vaccine Research At Bavarian Nordic A/S Pharmaceuticals
An employee uses a microscope during research in a laboratory used to detect contamination in employees' clothing at the Bavarian Nordic A/S biotechnology company, where the research into infectious diseases, including the ebola vaccine, takes place in Kvistgaard, Denmark, on Friday, Oct. 31, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Guess what spawned a "dangerous and incorrect narrative" in 2014?

PolitiFact has named the panicked response to Ebola as the 2014 Lie of the Year.

The website, which fact-checks the statements of public figures, noted 16 erroneous claims made for Ebola last year, which together produced “a dangerous and incorrect narrative.”

Those included Fox News analyst George Will’s false assertion that Ebola could spread through a sneeze or cough, Senator Rand Paul’s description of the disease as “incredibly contagious,” “very transmissible” and “easy to catch” and Congressman Phil Gingrey’s warning that migrants could carry Ebola across the U.S.’s southern border.

“When combined,” PolitiFact writes, “the claims edged the nation toward panic. Governors fought Washington over the federal response. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stumbled to explain details about transmission of the virus and its own prevention measures. American universities turned away people from Africa, whether they were near the outbreak or not.”

[PolitiFact]

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: From California’s Pineapple Express to Another Shutdown Drama

Watch this week's #KnowRightNow to catch up on all the latest stories

The House passed a $1.1 trillion spending package late Thursday to ensure that the government will avoid another damaging shutdown. “This compromise proposal merits bipartisan support on Capitol Hill and hopefully will arrive on the President’s desk in the next few days, and if it does, he will sign it,” stated White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

A tropical storm called the Pineapple Express pummeled the Pacific Northwest on Thursday. In drought-stricken California, flooding and mudslides prompted rare school closures in the north of the state. Powerful winds knocked out power to more than 150,000 homes in Washington.

Gas prices hit a 4-year low this week, with the average price of gas in the United States sinking to $2.72 per gallon. That’s the lowest gas prices have been since November 2010. Prices are dropping due to higher North American oil production and less demand. New Mexico has the lowest gas prices at $2.38 per gallon, and San Francisco has the highest gas prices at $3.04 per gallon.

And lastly, on Wednesday, TIME Magazine chose the Ebola fighters as 2014’s Person of the Year. “They risked and persisted, sacrificed, and saved,” TIME editor Nancy Gibbs wrote.

TIME obituary

In Memoriam: Michel du Cille (1956 – 2014)

He worked in images, but his passion was reality

In 1987, photographer Michel du Cille immersed himself in the lives of Miami crack addicts inside a dangerous apartment complex known to its residents as the Graveyard. Working alongside the tough and talented young reporter Lynne Duke, du Cille produced a definitive document of the social and human tragedy that was the crack epidemic. Michel’s work for the Miami Herald’s Tropic magazine won the Pulitzer Prize—one of three Pulitzers honoring this important and influential photojournalist.

His editor on the piece, Gene Weingarten, was struck by the fact that Michel went to work without a camera. For weeks, he haunted the Graveyard with empty hands, learning to see human beings before making them his subjects. Knowing them meant revealing himself. “I want them to get to know me as a person,” Michel said. “First comes trust, then the work.”

Du Cille died this week as he lived, taking the long, honest path. He despised shortcuts. At 58, he was hiking miles of remote West African trail in pursuit of the Ebola epidemic for the Washington Post. Evidently, he suffered a heart attack.

A great news photograph—and Michel du Cille made many of them—reveals its subject in a way that writing can never match. What may be less obvious is that a great photograph also reveals the photographer. Writers can sketch scenes based on interviews; spin tales from notes and transcripts. The photographer must be present at the critical moment; there can be no substitute. This almost always means hours, days and weeks of preparation before the moment comes.

I was honored to work with Michel for many years at the Herald and the Post, and I remember him as a journalist of unrelenting integrity. He spoke in a soft voice with the faintest seasoning of his native Jamaica, and his was the still, soft voice of conscience. He demanded the best from himself and expected nothing less from the rest of us.

Together with the brilliant and hilarious editor Joe Elbert, du Cille built the Post’s photography department into one of the most distinguished in newspaper history. They were yin and yang, boisterous Joe and quiet Michel, but they prided themselves on their shared commitment to utter candor. They critiqued portfolios like Marine drill instructors, breaking the photographers down before rebuilding them in stronger form.

Wounded soldiers during a morning formation. Walter Reed Medical Center. 2007. Michel du Cille—The Washington Post/Getty Images

When Michel stepped down from senior newsroom management to resume life as “a shooter,” he immediately reminded us that he could walk the walk. His deeply humane work documenting the neglect of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center perfectly complemented the wrenching investigation by writers Anne Hull and Dana Priest, and earned the Pulitzer gold medal in 2008.

That he eagerly volunteered to go into combat in Afghanistan after cancer treatment and a pair of knee replacements tells you a lot of what you need to know about Michelangelo Everard du Cille. That he wrote with searing openness about the challenge of honoring the dignity of Ebola patients while documenting their wretched suffering tells you the rest. He worked in images, but his passion was reality. No picture could be worthy unless it was honest.

Chip Somodevilla of Getty Images says that he leans daily on a lesson he learned from du Cille. “He said to always look at the subject—the action—from all angles. He said to literally walk a circle around your subject to see it from a different angle, and wait for the surprises to come. That is very sound and sage advice from a man who never stopped telling stories that surprised, touched and moved us all.”

TIME ebola

U.N.: Ebola Outbreak Will Take Several More Months to Contain

Liberia Ebola Missed Goals
Health workers wearing Ebola protective gear spray the shrouded body of a suspected Ebola victim with disinfectant at an Ebola treatment center at Tubmanburg, on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia, on Nov. 28, 2014 Abbas Dulleh—AP

The U.N. goal of containing 100% of Ebola cases by Jan. 1 will not be met

The U.N.’s special envoy on Ebola said Thursday that it would be several months before the outbreak in West Africa is under control.

Dr. David Nabarro said international governments as well as local communities had taken a “massive shift” in responding to the crisis over the past four month, the Associated Press reports.

However, he noted that more needed to be done to contain the spread of the disease in western Sierra Leone and northern Mali.

“It’s going to take, I’m afraid, several more months before we can truly declare that the outbreak is coming under control,” Nabarro said.

The World Health Organization aimed to have 100% of cases isolated by Jan. 1, but acknowledges that previous targets have not been met.

[AP]

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