Before dying of Ebola in a Dallas hospital Wednesday morning Thomas Eric Duncan was being given an experimental drug treatment for that virus, which federal authorities had approved for emergency use just days before.
While Duncan's death sent the stock of the drug's manufacturer Chimerix plunging on the news, the jury is still out on whether its antiviral brincidofovir can help other people infected with Ebola, including NBC News freelance cameraman Ashoka Mukpo, who was given the same drug in a Nebraska hospital after arriving there Monday.
And the jury is also still out on whether other drug treatments that have been used on several Ebola patients played a role in their survival.
Read MoreEbola patient in Dallas dies
While the current Ebola epidemic in West Africa—the largest in the virus' history—is expected to continue for months in several countries there, it could peter out before potential treatments and vaccines are developed well enough to have any significant impact on this outbreak, much less be determined to be effective in combating the virus at all in humans.
But that's not stopping several companies and health agencies from rushing to conduct trials on a set of experimental drugs, including the one that was used on Duncan. At least three vaccines are being fast-tracked to testing, and another four potential treatments are on deck as well for possible use.
Although the hope is to get those vaccines and treatments deployed fast enough so that they help people avoid and survive Ebola during this epidemic, researchers also want to be ready with enough proven pharmaceutical weapons to block the next outbreak of the often-deadly virus.