Saturday, December 31, 2016

Dead viruses tell no tales

A "kumbabhishekam" is in the works for a temple in the old country. In grandmother's village.  That temple is dedicated to the god(dess) who, according to the believers, protected them from the dreaded small pox.

Belief and faith continue despite the knowledge that it is not any god or goddess who protects the people or curses them with pox. It is not any god who worked to eliminate small pox; recall this post from a few months ago after reading Dr. D.A. Henderson's obituary?  About how he worked in godawful conditions in India to wipe the virus off the face of the earth?

No, this post is not to beat up on faith.  This being a new year, I want to celebrate. By noting something extraordinary.
It took a major Ebola epidemic that led to more than 11,000 deaths, but we now finally have a successful Ebola vaccine candidate in development. If approved, the vaccine would vastly reduce the likelihood of ever seeing another major Ebola outbreak.
You can imagine my excitement here--given my posts here on the urgency to address the awful disease.  I urged here, and on Facebook, to donate to MSF for their phenomenal service during that epidemic.  Thrilled I am with this news.
[The researchers] decided to try something called "ring vaccination," a public health method used to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s. It involves immunizing the immediate contacts — friends, family, housemates, neighbors — of a person who falls ill with a virus to create a protective ring around them to stop transmission.
As soon as a new Ebola case was diagnosed, the researchers traced all their contacts for a total of 117 clusters (or "rings"), each made up of about 80 people. They then randomized the rings of people to get the vaccine either right after their friend or family member had been diagnosed or after a three-week delay.
Their preliminary results were so positive that the researchers changed the trial design so that everyone got the vaccine immediately, including children.
Yep, the same public health method that was used by Dr. Henderson in his remarkable war against small pox.

It is remarkable how such progress happens despite all the horrible politicians and governments.  One can only imagine how much the world would have been a better place if only we humans had at least a little bit of an understanding of our fleeting existence here and, therefore, our priorities.  Oh well; stupid is as stupid does!

I hope this Ebola vaccine delivers what it promises.  And I wish that the success will energize the search for something like a vaccine that can stop dead another dreaded ailment--malaria.

For now, this news about the Ebola vaccine is good enough for me to wish you all a happy new year!


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