UK – The discharge of the first British person, William Pooley, to contract Ebola during the outbreak in West Africa has been discharged from hospital after making a full recovery. Will have come as a great relief to his family.
Indeed we are very pleased for him. Even more so we are pleased that so far there has not been a secondary outbreak of Ebola in London. Again we may have to wait another 29 days, the incubation period of this strain of Ebola virus, to say that with any degree of certainty. This does however lead to a few interesting questions.
So far there have been at least 1,900 known deaths from Ebola in Africa. That number is increasing all the time. The papers went out of their way to tell us that this was a new strain of the Ebola virus. This was to reassure us that it had not escaped from the CDC or its equivalent elsewhere.
The number of deaths is compounded by a new outbreak of Ebola in the Djera region of northern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DMC). Once again the papers go overboard about how this a different strain of the Ebola virus indigenous to the DRC. Which has had seven outbreaks since it was discovered in 1976.
So far a British Nurse and two American doctors have been cured of this terrible virus by an experimental vaccine called ZMapp which just happens to cure all three. I know that this is a small sample so it is not statistically significant. But you would reasonably have expected one death.
This is surprising because Ebola kills between 65 and 90% of those infected. More than that viral reproduction is an interesting subject. They reproduce by infecting a cell and stealing the DNA or RNA from that cell. It is know to mutate by swapping ‘genes’ with other viruses you also have to include transcription errors in the mutation side.
Which makes all the more surprising that an experimental vaccine, works on a new strain of the Ebola virus.
So let us go back to what is known. The CDC has studied Ebola and the Marburg viruses with a view to weaponize them.
The first thing that they will have done an that is to develop a strain for research purposes. This strain will have a genetic marker that can be traced in the event of a research sample escaping into the environment. In parallel they will have developed experimental vaccines for them.
So the question is is this a field test of a research sample that has escaped into the environment? If it is a experiment gone rogue then whose experiment was it?