The epidemic of the deadly Ebola virus that was born in the depths of the jungle, has been spreading around the world with an unprecedented speed lately. The number of victims, according to official figures, has already exceeded a thousand people. The number of infected individuals nears almost two thousand. The WHO declared the disease a threat of global significance. Are there ways to combat the fever?
It turns out that there is a vaccine against Ebola. Pentagon scientists were developing it for 30 years, and all the rights for the drug belong to the government of the United States. Two infected US medics received injections of the vaccine and they started recovering from the disease immediately.
Why has this been made public only now? Why is it the USA that holds all the rights for the use of the vaccine? There can be two most obvious answers found to these questions.
As one can see, Ebola is a perfect biological weapon: it spreads quickly and gives nearly 100 percent mortality. Those having the life-saving vaccine can dictate any conditions to others.
The second answer is a purely commercial interest. It is enough to arrange panic with the help of the media, as it was the case with several epidemics before, such as avian flu. Afterwards, it will be possible to sell the life-saving medicine at any price.
However, Russian scientists doubt that the Americans created the medicine indeed. Russian scientists also conduct the research to study the nature of the virus to be able to create the vaccine against it. Soviet scientists, for example, Professor Alexander Butenko, was a member of the joint Soviet-Guinean expedition in 1982 and spent nearly a year in the rain forests of Guinea, when the then unknown virus was discovered.
The current distribution of the infection is a continuation of a dangerous outbreak of the disease from 1982, said Professor Butenko. Russian scientists have the most extensive scientific base for the creation of the vaccine, Butenko says. The materials that Alexander Butenko collected a quarter of a century ago should help today's generation of Russian scientists in the development of the vaccine against the fever.
Several Russian researchers are already in Guinea, including the head of the Laboratory for the Ecology of Viruses, Mikhail Shchelkanov. "Currently, the vaccine has passed five tests quite well. The tests of the vaccine go through the final stage, but no one knows when they are going to end," said Mikhail Shchelkanov.
Several years ago, a prominent Indonesian businessman who now resides in Canada, insisted on meeting me in a back room of one of Jakarta's posh restaurants. An avid reader of mine, he 'had something urgent to tell me', after finding out that our paths were going to be crossing in this destroyed and hopelessly polluted Indonesian capital.