Medical Expert: Canadian Ebola Vaccine May Not Be Enough

Wednesday, 13 Aug 2014 11:39 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Canada's government is donating an experimental vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus, but medical expert Dr. Jane Orient told "America's Forum" host J.D. Hayworth on Newsmax TV that it may not be enough to save "the millions of people who might be infected."

"I hope that it works, but something that we're not talking about, quite apart from this terrible public health disaster in Africa, is that back in 1999, the Centers for Disease Control intervention classified hemorrhagic fever viruses, of which Ebola is one, as a category A biological warfare agent," Orient told Hayworth.

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Earlier on Wednesday, the Canadian government announced it will donate 800 to 1,000 doses of the experimental Ebola vaccine VSV-EBOV to the World Health Organization amid a race to contain the virus, which has killed more than 1,000 people in West Africa.

A popular topic for science fiction writers, the virus has also "actually been weaponized by the former Soviet Union and Russia," Orient said.

And while the Soviets were "not able to weaponize Ebola from the standpoint of making it possible to disseminate through a warhead, there are much, much lower technological means" to spread the virus, said Orient.

She noted that Ebola is "really very ideal for a biological warfare agent. It kills fast, it's extremely contagious, and the mortality rate, it could be as much as 90 percent."

Orient said that she has "seen pictures of Soviet warheads that were modified for biological use that had little bomblets in it containing the Marburg virus, which is a relative of the Ebola virus."

And even though it would be difficult to spread Ebola itself through a warhead, there are other ways that would be hard to detect.

"What about sending an infected person into New York by airplane or have him walk across the Mexican border before he gets really sick?" she said. "The U.S. public health service is really not prepared for something like this. Our hospitals are not prepared for something like this. Alarms are not going out to physicians as to what to look for in someone who might be infected with one of these dreadful viruses, and it's time we paid attention to what's been written about for more than a decade."

Orient said that the vaccine may or may not work at all to stop the spread of Ebola.

"It can't possibly have been tested really in an Ebola outbreak," she said, noting that the current outbreak is different because the current outbreak is in three major cities while past outbreaks have been in isolated communities.

If there are indeed just 1,000 doses released of any vaccine, they would likely go to the patients' caretakers, Orient told Hayworth.

"I understand that more than 100 physicians and nurses have been killed by Ebola, and many of them have fled and are not available to work at all, so that will probably be the highest priority," she said.

Meanwhile, Orient called for the Food and Drug Administration to fast-track its approval of experimental medications such as the Canadian vaccine or other such drugs for Ebola treatments.

"You can argue, well it's an untested drug, but the only way to test it is on an Ebola outbreak," she said. "That's what we have now, so we're going to wait 20 years and maybe allow it to be used then? I would say we desperately need to make all these things available as quickly as possible to people who are going to die without them."

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