Saturday, March 21, 2015

Some Sad News Concerning Liberia; Even As "Ring" Ebola Vaccine Candidate Trials Continue for Merck, In Guinea

As is so often true, out in the wild, biological life forms just. . . find a way. They adapt. They evolve. Just as we all inexorably do. But we will certainly hope that these viral agents do not mutate -- not too quickly, nor too radically, this time around.

This is all a stark reminder that all science is only as good as the biology that supports it. I suppose I should, on a positive note, remark that in Guinea the large scale "ring" trials of Merck and NewLink, as well as those of GSK, continue to enroll robustly (due in no small part to a series of payments, roughly equal to ten-weeks' full-time wages, to recruit volunteers in-country). It would be reassuring to know that we -- as a planet -- have a safe, effective vaccine or two in hand, as these outbreaks reappear. [And if history has taught us anything, it is that they will reappear.]

But for now, we will worry that it evolves or mutates before it can be tamped down. Here is the latest bit, out of Monrovia (Liberia's capital city), from DM Akadamie -- do go read it all:

. . . .Officials in Liberia were scheduled to meet in an emergency session on Saturday in the latest chapter of the Ebola epidemic.

The cause of the meeting was announced the evening before when health officials confirmed that a woman in the capital city Monrovia had been diagnosed with the hemorrhagic virus.

"This is a new case after we have gone more than 27 days without a single case. It is a setback," government spokesman Lewis Brown said.

The last confirmed Ebola patient in Liberia was discharged from hospital on March 5, prompting a 42-day countdown to begin until the West African country could be declared free of the fatal disease.

Since the outbreak of the epidemic in December 2013, the United Nations has counted over 10,000 Ebola-related deaths, nearly all of which occurred in across Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Health officials, while hopeful that Liberia would report no new cases by mid-April, remained aware of the threat posed by the neighboring West African nations still crisis-ridden. . . .

With this bit of disheartening news, we will look forward to a quiet and reflective Sunday, here. So it goes.

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