|Fueling Ebola Awareness. Myth vs Reality|
Last week Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the Global Health Security Agenda summit the Pentagon has a longstanding research program on infectious disease, including Ebola. Hagel said the Defense Department will now begin clinical trials for a vaccine candidate.
“On Wednesday,” Hagel said, “we received approval to begin safety testing for one [Ebola] vaccine candidate that will be conducted here at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.”
The Pentagon is funding an Ebola vaccine under a $140 million project with Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, a Canadian company.
In August an “experimental serum” was administered to Christian aid workers infected in Liberia. The “mysterious treatment” was produced by Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., a company based in San Diego, California. Its antibody research is funded by the U.S. Army.
“The most fascinating aspect of the Ebola vaccine manufacturing process is how quickly they have brought it to the trials phase,” writes Dave Mihalovic for Prevent Disease. “It is virtually impossible for vaccine manufacturers to produce and deliver these drugs in the timeline they have proposed. It typically takes several years from the point of initial vaccine development to human clinical trials, a process which the manufacturers claim is being done in weeks and months. The only way it would have been possible was through years of planning and procurement.”
Ebola: Collaboration Between the Pentagon and Pharmaceutical Corporations
The Pentagon’s interest in Ebola – a disease that until this week remained confined to third world countries in Africa – is suspicious, Mihalovic writes.
It is clear that the US government has been keeping tabs on Ebola for a while now. It holds the patents on a strain of the Ebola virus known as Bundibugyo (EboBun) that was found in Uganda. It is although not clear whether it is the same strain that has created the current epidemic. The patent, awarded in October 2012 to five scientists led by Jonathan S Towner, is now deposited with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Daily Observer, the largest newspaper in Liberia, speculated in early September that the virus was unleashed on unsuspecting Africans by the Pentagon and pharmaceutical corporations.
“Reports narrate stories of the US Department of Defense (DoD) funding Ebola trials on humans, trials which started just weeks before the Ebola outbreak in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The reports continue and state that the DoD gave a contract worth $140 million dollars to Tekmira, a Canadian pharmaceutical company, to conduct Ebola research. This research work involved injecting and infusing healthy humans with the deadly Ebola virus,” writes Dr. Cyril Broderick, a former professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Liberia’s College of Agriculture and Forestry.