Friday, October 24, 2014

Vaccine development for Ebola will accelerate for 2015; treated early, most patients in US seem to improve quickly

A vaccine known to protect monkeys from Ebola sat unused for ten years, according to a New York Times story today by Denise Grady, link here. The main reason, of course, is that Ebola outbreaks have always been sporadic and tended to die off, until this one, and pharmaceutical companies didn’t find it profitable to invest in them.
While I believe companies should make profits from their medications (and I probably have some of these companies in my IRA and depend on them for retirement) we need to make sure we are getting prepared (with vaccines) for everything we can – including SARS/MERS and “bird flu”, all of which have their own quirks in epidemiology and pathology, and in how the viruses actually “work”.  We simply can’t put people’s lives on hold this way over uncertainty over incidental contact, as has happened to hundreds from the Ebola “mini-outbreak” in the US.
AP has the report above on the vaccine, but there are some YouTube videos out there by “vaccine deniers”.
The experience so far is that patients identified at the first signs and treated properly  (with fluids and antivirals) are recovering promptly.  We don’t have the clinical details for any of the cases (Pham, Vinson, Mukpo) but it seems that they did not have severe symptoms for long, or even at all.  Mukpo was tweeting soon from his isolation room and seemed to recover very quickly.  Pham was in “fair” condition briefly, however, before going back to “good” and then rapid disappearance of the virus.
Hopefully, Craig Spencer will show rapid improvement as treatment starts.  Bellevue in NYC appears to be as able to treat Ebola as NIH or CDC-Emory. Only New Yorkers in very close contact with him (the girl friend, etc) should have to be restricted, monitored or quarantined.  
In February 2002 (at age 58), I had a bizarre respiratory illness while in California.  It hit suddenly with a dry cough and high fever, even though I had a flu shot.  It backed off, and then came back a second time, before going away for good, although it left a deep productive cough that lingered for weeks.  Loss of appetite and some diarrhea also occurred.  I finished the trip and even had a meeting at UCSB about my book, but was pretty washed out a couple nights.  There are reasons that I think this was more like a kinds of SARS.  I think a lot of people normally get over coronavirus infections on their own, and that they don’t get reported to the CDC.  I’m probably immune to it now;  it would be interesting to look for SARS-like antibodies.   

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