August 2014 – AFRICA – As countries across the world battle to contain the spreads of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), the killer ailment appears to be devising means of circumventing efforts to stop it, researchers have said. Experts claim that the virus is “rapidly and continually mutating, making it harder to diagnose and treat.” This is just as former President Olusegun Obasanjo declared, on Saturday, that the index case, Patrick Sawyer, in a “devilish” connivance with some Liberian authorities, intentionally brought the disease to Nigeria. He also noted that the disease, which he said had become a global problem, had been taking a toll on Nigeria’s economy, charging the Federal Government to partner the World Health Organization (WHO), European Union (EU) and government of America in containing the virus. Sunday Tribune’s finding showed that result of a research by a team of American scientists indicates that the initial patients diagnosed with the virus in Sierra Leone revealed almost 400 genetic modifications, concluding that this could render current treatment ineffective and put vaccines that are being worked on for its cure in danger. According to reports, the team of researchers, under the Broad Institute in Massachusetts and Harvard University, analyzed more than 99 Ebola virus genomes which were collected from 78 patients diagnosed with the disease in Sierra Leona in the first 24 days of the current outbreak. Dr Pardis Sabeti, a senior associate member at the Broad Institute and an associate professor at Harvard University, who was among leaders of the research, said “by making the data immediately available to the community, we hope to accelerate response efforts.
“Upon releasing our first batch of Ebola sequences in June, some of the world’s leading epidemic specialists contacted us, and many of them are now also actively working on the data. We were honored and encouraged. A spirit of international and multidisciplinary collaboration is needed to quickly shed light on the ongoing outbreak.” According to Daily Mail, the researchers’ findings, “reported in the journal, Science, could have important implications for rapid field diagnostic tests. “The team found more than 300 genetic changes that make the 2014 Ebola virus genomes distinct from the viral genomes tied to previous Ebola outbreaks. “They also found variations in the genome sequence indicating that, from the samples analyzed, the outbreak started from a single introduction into humans, subsequently spreading from person to person over many months. “To accelerate response efforts, the research team released the full-length sequences on the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)’s DNA sequence database, in advance of publication. This means the data is available to the global scientific community.”
He advised Nigerians to brace up by tackling the economic effects of the disease in the country’ urging them to be aggressive with precautionary measures against the disease, since there was no cure yet. Obasanjo said that some Liberian authorities knew of the contagious and deadly illness in Sawyer and allowed him to visit Nigeria. “Ebola is taking economic toll. How do we handle people that are economically affected; not those that are dead or ill? The economic effect has started. How do we reduce, recoup the economic cost of Ebola on communities, nations and the West African region? “When HIV came, they said don’t talk about it. Now, it is Ebola and Ebola is even talking about HIV. We should be doing whatever we can and that is being aggressive in taking precautionary measures to prevent it. “So, it is devilish enough that Patrick Sawyer, in connivance with some authorities from his country, allowed the visit because they know he had it; and he came to Nigeria,” he said. He also called on the world’s pharmaceutical giants to intensify research efforts towards providing either vaccine or curative drugs for the virus. –Tribune