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The title calling it "curable" feels a bit misleading. To explain...

Ebola's a viral infection, like the common cold or the flu. If someone gets sick with it, then usually their immune system should fight it off naturally, just like the common cold or the flu. And just like a cold/flu, there hasn't really been a cure for it; instead, Ebola sufferers would be put on bed-rest with fluids to resist dehydration, fever management, etc., while the body fights it off.

However, Ebola's symptoms tend to be severe. Glancing at Wikipedia's figures, it seems that about 50% of people who get it die -- which probably varies a lot by the exact strain, health of the victim, support received while sick, etc.. Many victims end up making a full recovery, though some end up taking more long-term damage from the trauma.

As I'm reading it, they've observed that some victims tend to fight off Ebola with relative success. So, they appear to be trying to copy those survivors' defenses via [monoclonal antibodies](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monoclonal_antibody), then pass that on to Ebola sufferers.

Since they're basically optimizing a victim's immune system with specially selected antibodies, the victim still suffers Ebola and fights it off as usual, just they're getting some pretty powerful backup in that fight.

And apparently the results are pretty good so far! The article reports:

> The monoclonal antibody cocktail produced by a company called Regeneron Pharmaceuticals had the biggest impact on lowering death rates, down to 29 percent, while NIAID’s monoclonal antibody, called mAb114, had a mortality rate of 34 percent. The results were most striking for patients who received treatments soon after becoming sick, when their viral loads were still low—death rates dropped to 11 percent with mAb114 and just 6 percent with Regeneron’s drug, compared with 24 percent with ZMapp and 33 percent with Remdesivir.

The article exaggerates a bit by citing the mortality rates for people who don't receive any support; that seems like an unreasonable figure since this treatment is an advanced form of support, so presumably it'll improve the odds of those who do get support.

So, if mortality rates are about 50%, then presumably they can drop that to about 29% overall, with people who seek treatment earlier enjoying the greatest benefit with mortality rates dropping to 6%.

Realistically speaking, this seems to suggest that this "cure" reduces an individual's odds-of-death by a bit shy of 50%; that leaves a lot to be desired. Still, it's awesome because:

1. Any progress on something like this is awesome.

2. This sort of technology can rapidly improve, so the current positive results may just be the beginning.




Let's consider the real-world implications here.

Someone in your family, or village shows symptoms of Ebola. You get them diagnosed ASAP and there's still a one in three chance you're never going to see them again.

However, a confirmed case now has everybody's attention. Everyone who was exposed now has a 94% chance of surviving. Double the morbidity of the swine flu, yes. Still a quite stressful time for everybody, full of uncertainty and loss. But not the cultural-PTSD-inducing, apocalyptic catastrophe it was before.


For a disease with a notoriously high mortality rate of at least 25% in the best of cases, a treatment that reduces this to 6% when started early enough seems like a cure to me. It just isn't 100% effective yet, and treatment needs to be started as early as possible, which is not dissimilar to a lot of other cures.


Wellll, an crude guess from 5 years ago made the point that 50% is in African countries, and US healthcare may drop it to 30% on its own: https://www.livescience.com/48263-ebola-mortality-us-africa....


It's important to note that the Liberia outbreak was a strain with a particularly high survival rate as well as asymptomatic carriers. This is part of the reason that it spread while most outbreaks tended to burn themselves out due to a much higher mortality rate (80-90% is not uncommon).




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