FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Thursday, September 30, 2004

In Search of an Ebola Vaccine

Ebola infection is one of the deadliest, most contagious diseases in existence, with no known cure. A single viral particle (pictured below) can multiply and cause death within days. Making matters worse, the Ebola virus has the potential to be weaponized.

Because of this danger, the U.S. Government is making the development of an Ebola vaccine a priority, according to Scientific American. The vaccine appears to be effective in mice and monkeys, but there's currently no safe way to test it in humans. Another unknown is how long immunity will last; current vaccine batches protect for only about a month.

Even though a viable, commercial Ebola vaccine might not be available for years, the Department of Homeland Security may stockpile early versions nonetheless, bargaining that in a bioterror emergency, a questionable vaccine would be better than no vaccine at all.