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Ebola and the Ebola Vaccine

Cancer drug maker NewLink Genetics Corporation has been tasked by the United States Government to create an Ebola vaccine. NewLink’s VSVΔG-ZEBOV is touted as a “Canadian drug” because it is developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory however, make no mistake, NewLink itself, is an American company out of Iowa.

NewLink is rather small in comparison to many of the big-dog names we are accustomed to hearing relating to vaccines. Interestingly [and worth noting], NewLink’s  founders and executive management were all [save one] previous government employees of, or grant recipients of, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) prior to coming to NewLink.

Human Testing Of VSVΔG-ZEBOV by DoD?



Yesterday, corporate media began reporting on NewLink’s vaccine VSVΔG-ZEBOV and the human trials that are now underway. What they have not reported on or delved much into is that Newlink received an initial $1-mil (plus contingencies) contract for vaccine studies from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) USSTRATCOM Center for Combating WMD and Standing Joint Force headquarters-Elimination.

According to Anthony Shaffer, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel and Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, it is normal for the DoD’s Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) to be involved in vaccine creation.

According to the USAMRIID website,

Since 1969, USAMRIID has served as the Department of Defense’s (DoD) lead laboratory for medical biological defense research.”

Ebola is one of a handful of diseases the USAMRIID works with however, the USAMRIID is not DRTA.

NewLink announced their DoD contract in an August 5 press release where Dr. Charles Link, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the company claims,

This Ebola vaccine has been 100% effective in preventing lethal infection when given to non-human primates before they are infected with the virus.”

Dr. Link added that human testing was now a “major priority”.

On October 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) mentions NewLink’s vaccine, VSVΔG-ZEBOV, as one of two “promising” vaccines in an assessment published on their site. The other candidate was none other than PhRMA giant GlaxoSmithKlein (GSK) who began their trials last month. NewLink also published a press release that same day and then again on September 4, after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave NewLink the green-light to begin human testing.

In the release, NewLink CEO and Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Charles Link’s said,

We are preparing for Phase 1 studies in North America, Europe and Africa, and recently signed agreements with third-party manufacturers to scale up vaccine production.”

NewLink President and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Nick Vahanian, added,

The cooperation of multiple agencies including the PHAC, and US agencies such as the FDA, DTRA and NIAID, has made it possible to very rapidly bring this product to clinical trials at Walter Reed. This support has significantly accelerated the timeline for advancement of this promising vaccine candidate.”

 Department Dollars



NewLink has now officially begun their vaccine trials at Walter Reed Veteran’s Hospital in Maryland. It was not mentioned whether or not NewLink was also conducting trials elsewhere as they had stated in their press release. We know GSK is already testing in West Africa.

Some American citizens are concerned over why the trials are being done at Walter Reed. Some of their questions are about safety while others ask why a military hospital is the setting for these trials and why is a military “Defense” budget involved in the creation of and monitoring of the vaccine?

DTRA is a Department of Defense (DoD) entity that primarily deals with weapons of mass destruction (WMD). While there is no argument that Ebola is certainly capable of causing even wider spread destruction, we are not under attack as a nation and many find it unsettling to be spending our “Defense” budget on it. In addition, how much more money is the DoD spending on this with other companies — like GSK, whom the DoD has been investing copious amounts on for several years?

The Big Fear



We live in an era where the average citizen is more involved in the opinion aspect of politics than ever before and with such “enlightenment” comes “enlightened” paranoia. Will there be mandatory mass inoculations? Are forced vaccinations truly on the horizon and if so would that be such a bad thing in this case?

Corporate media plays their part peddling infection fear. Should we be afraid? How real is the threat of a mass causality Ebola event in the United States as portrayed by the media?

Mickey Huff, the Director of media-watch group, Project Censored, says,

Ebola fears may be real, but they are FAR and away being grossly and recklessly exaggerated in the corporate media in the US [with] Fox leading the way, of course. NBC even had a panel discussing how the fear mongering was a problem.”

Many people are in agreement that the potential for a full-on Ebola outbreak in the United States is a very real possibility however, not everyone is willing to give up the rights to their bodies [taking a vaccine] and other freedoms for the sake of the cause. There is already an aggressive and defensive stance being taken up across the country, especially by those who believe Ebola was intentionally released. Having the DoD involved with the vaccine’s creation only feeds into distrustful assumptions.

Does the United States government have a right to inoculate you against your will? When do individual rights get willingly set aside for the greater good and who decides what that greater good is?

When is fear founded? When is force?

The potential Ebola has to wreak havoc in the United States is beyond just that of public health. Our status as free citizens is now, more than ever, on the front-line precipice of the act we have all dreaded coming. The very real possibility of widespread quarantines invoking martial law, state to state border closings and the economic snowball effect that will result are no longer conspiracy theories to “tsk tsk”.

Which is the greater to fear; the disease or the repercussions of a government gone mad making a power grab? Will we experience both?

It’s Getting’ Real



Unfortunately, the disease is real so it it’s no simple thing.

This latest Ebola outbreak exceeds anything in its own history. The death-toll is staggering and growing exponentially. Now that it’s touched us, the United States is already failing miserably.

Robert Calhoun, president and owner of Threat Mitigation and Analysis Service, LLC says,

We can already see the results of just 3 or 4 people. What happens when we learn that they infected others? Then those affected others… We also have to think about what happens to the economy should there be a large number infected.”

Some people suffering from the disease allegedly have not been publicly identified as was reported by NBC however it is said they are being treated in United States hospitals. With one known death and the two hospital nurses — Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, now testing positive for the disease here in America People’s fears are ramping up. With Vinson potentially exposing more than 132 other passengers on a flight while, according to CDC Director Thomas Frieden, she was experiencing a 99.5 degree fever; it is easy to envision Calhoun’s scenario.

There are now hundreds of other American’s either being questioned, quarantined or put in isolation, including nurse Nina Pham’s boyfriend. This does not yet include those who Vinson or her belongings may have come into contact with at the two airports she traveled through.

Where do we go from here?

Are we entering the beginning stages of a real pandemic? Will the soul of our citizens bear it well? When is real fear founded and who will rise above it?

AUTHOR NOTE: Richard Preston, author of New York Times bestseller, The Hot Zone, understands the implication of today’s Ebola outbreak; he also knows that Ebola strains previously unknown to be airborne can be found to be airborne as was the case in 1989 in Reston, Virginia; the real-life story that he bases his non-fiction bestseller on. I tried to reach out to Richard for this article, but he has been hard at work on a New Yorker Magazine article called, “Ebola Wars”, which comes out on October 17. His insights into the current “Hot Zone” are much-anticipated by many.


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This entry was posted on October 15, 2014 by in CDC, Civil Rights, Community & Culture, Ebola, Vaccines and tagged , , , , , , , .


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