Medical experts may one day be able to discern the reasons why Dr. Kent Brantly beat the odds in recovering from the Ebola virus, but the medical care he received once he returned to the United States certainly played a part, said Tevi Troy, president of the American Health Policy Institute.
Troy told Newsmax TV
's "America's Forum" that medical professionals couldn't determine yet if the experimental vaccine Brantly received aided his recovery.
"I don't think we know yet [why Brantly recovered], and, scientifically, that's something we need to find out. But the fact that he did have this drug, and hopefully the drug is effective against it, but also the fact that there is high-level treatment in the U.S." contributed to his recovery, Troy said Thursday.
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Brantly had been working at a missionary clinic in Liberia when he contracted the disease. He was flown back to the United States on Aug. 2 and was discharged from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta on Thursday.
A second American missionary, Nancy Writebol, also contracted Ebola and was flown to the United States for treatment on Aug. 5. Both Brantly and Writebol received an experimental drug called ZMapp that was only available in limited supply. Writebol was released from the hospital Tuesday, NBC News
Troy said Brantly "beat the odds" in recovering from the disease, since about 1,200 of the 2,000 people known to have Ebola had died. He said doctors could study Brantly's blood and immune system, since "he's now developed some immunity to Ebola," which could possibly lead to a vaccine or cure.
So far, none of the suspected cases in the United States turned out to be Ebola, Troy said, adding that many fell into the category of what he called the "worried well," when people hear of a disease and "suddenly feel that they have the symptoms." He said the possibility remained for Ebola to spread outside Africa.
"If it does spread to other countries and other continents, that is something we should be watching. I'm also a little concerned about what's going on inside Liberia," he said.
Since the disease is only spread through bodily fluids and not through the air, Troy said he wouldn't tell anyone not to fly or that they should "hunker down" in their home. However, he said he would "be careful in going to Africa, and, particularly, West Africa these days."
Still, Troy stressed the quality of a country's medical care played a large role in the spread and treatment of Ebola.
"It is not easy to contract. But again, if you have a place with poor infection controls, as you do in much of West Africa, then the spread is much more likely than you're going to have where there are more advanced medical systems, like here," he said.
Troy said he "was not one of those people saying that [Brantly] shouldn't come to the United States " for treatment, because he is "a U.S. citizen" and was "doing incredible work in trying to save people from disease in Africa."
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