Dylan Love of The International Business Times (IBT) published an article Ebola Vaccine Entering Human Trials late on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. Preliminary tests showed the new antivirus vaccine was 100% effective on test animals.
The announcement was made by Rona Ambrose, Health Minister for Canada. The human testing is going to be done of 40 volunteers and carried out in Silver Springs, MD. NewLink Genetics Corp has been licensed by the Health Ministry to develop the drug. Preliminary results from the human study are expected in December 2014.
The human study will attempt to determine the safety, efficacy and correct dosage for the Ebola antivirus, which will carry the designation VSV-EBOV. The pharmaceutical industry claims that the major reason for high costs on new drugs is the time spent in human testing. The Ebola antivirus is on a lightning fast track if human testing results of VSV-EBOV are expected in less than three months. Given that Ebola was documented in 1976, this new development of a potentially effective antivirus for Ebola is ironic.
The people of West Africa should consider the few cases of Ebola for Westerners and Thomas Duncan as a gift from God. The justification by the pharmaceutical companies for not developing the Ebola antivirus was that it was not commercially viable because so few people were threatened by Ebola.
Developing an effective antivirus for Ebola is a wonderful goal. The antivirus is not the solution to the problem of proliferation of Ebola on a global scale. Refusing to allow people from West Africa is not a solution either. Ebola is the red flag to world organizations that there is a need to change priorities in dealing with third world countries with regard to health care, nutrition, sanitation and safe food and water.
NewLink Genetics Corp stands to make a fortune if it can bring the first safe and effective Ebola antivirus to market. The probability that VSV-EBOV will have no major side effects if about zero. This antivirus is intimately tied to the human immune system. As the AIDS treatments have shown, the side effects from antivirus drugs can be horrific.
Various groups have estimated the costs of unsuccessfully treating Thomas Eric Duncan at $500,000. Duncan had no insurance. Dr. Kent Brantley was successfully treated, and his blood has been used three times so far in blood transfusions to patients. There is an extremely limited quantity of antivirus available, and Dr. Brantley can only contribute so many antibodies. If a means of propagating antibodies from Ebola survivors can be used, these antibodies may be the safest way to treat Ebola patients.
More cases of deaths from Ebola are emerging in developed countries, with Spain and Germany now engaged in treating people infected in West Africa and health workers infected by the treatment procedures. The infection of nurse Nina Pham at Dallas’ Presbyterian Hospital while treating Duncan brings into question how exactly Ebola is transmitted. Pham has received a transfusion of Dr. Brantley’s blood as part of her treatment for Ebola. Not understanding the methods of transmission of Ebola provides a statement in itself about the previous concern for Ebola.
At no time in history has there been better proof that everyone on the planet is linked together for health. Ebola has ripped off the scab of the indifference by those in relatively safe countries to “those sick people over there”. When it comes to infectious diseases in today’s world, there is no “over there”. The remote infectious diseases are coming to our doorsteps. We are awake now. It is time to find real solutions to world health to protect all human beings.