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Spaniard Dies From Ebola, Despite Experimental Treatment

The Spanish priest who was infected with Ebola and given an experimental treatment has died.
Posted at 8:52 AM, Aug 12, 2014

The Spanish priest who had contracted Ebola and was being given an experimental treatment died Tuesday morning at a hospital in Madrid.

The priest — 75-year-old Miguel Pajares — had been working at a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, when he tested positive for the disease. (Video via RTVE)

As this video from the Spanish Ministry of Defense shows, Pajares arrived in Madrid on Thursday, in a special containment unit, before being taken to the hospital. 

Apart from being the first European infected during the recent outbreak, Pajares' case made headlines because of the experimental drug he was given — ZMapp — the same the two infected American care-givers received.

The fact that Pajares was treated with ZMapp stoked the fires of the ongoing ethical debate over who should receive the untested drug. 

As Bloomberg points out, part of that debate stems from the limited supply of ZMapp, with the World Health Organization convening a panel of ethicists to decide "whether drugs that haven’t been widely tested for safety should be used in an outbreak where about 40 percent of infected people survive with just supportive care." Then, Tuesday:

BBC: "Today the World Health Organization has ruled that that drug and others are ethical to use even though they haven't been tested on humans so their efficacy and side effects are unknown." 

Soon after that news, Al Jazeera reported the drug will be sent to Liberia, with the U.S. approving a request from the Liberian government for doses of Zmapp.

But Pajares' death, in particular his condition leading up to it, raises some concerns about the drug. 

Spanish newspaper El Mundo wrote that Pajares condition seemed to have stabilized after receiving the drug, and similar reports circulated in the hours leading up to his death.

MSNBC: "Spanish priest from West Africa, they took him to Spain, still very critical but he seems to be getting better, and these two Americans seem to be getting better..."

There is no known cure for Ebola, and the WHO reports the outbreak in West Africa has claimed more than 1,000 lives.

This video contains images from Getty Images.