by Tom Olago
The perception that the United States is largely safe and immune from major epidemics and pandemics is currently under challenge. It has emerged that large stocks of antiviral medications and respirators that have been set aside for the protection of U.S government personnel and citizens is about to expire. Consequently, U.S authorities are now reported to be ill-prepared to manage the spread and impact of global pandemics such as the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, or even the current global Ebola outbreak that has the entire globe running scared.
This alarming and increasingly likely potential outcome was recently reported on by CNN.com, based on federal investigation audit report findings on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The imminent expiry of large quantities of drugs reportedly resulted from the lack of a clear plan on how to replenish their stockpiles of equipment. Additionally, excessive coverall suits and surgical masks were purchased, and poor record keeping and management were found to be the root causes of the wastages and losses.
The DHS is said to have agreed with all 11 suggestions the Inspector General’s Office made to improve the program. To manage the process better and to seal the loopholes found, the department will assign an office to oversee the supplies and develop an adequate strategy for making sure the material stays current. It has applied for a shelf life extension with the Food and Drug Administration to extend the expiration dates on the antiviral medicine it has that will expire in 2015.
Hopefully, all these measures, as well as any additional ones requiring urgent implementation, can be taken in time to avert disaster should a pandemic such as Ebola find its way into the United States. The initial spread of Ebola may be quite a distance from the shores of North America, but that doesn’t mean the risk of Ebola reaching anywhere else in the world is far-fetched. A recent edition of WND.com quotes Dr. Margaret Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organization recently stating: “The devastating Ebola virus should not be characterized as an “African disease”… The current Ebola outbreak is the largest, most severe, and most complex outbreak of Ebola we have seen since the first outbreak of the disease 14 years ago.” Dr. Chan further explained that any stigmatization of the disease suggesting a racial classification would be detrimental to United Nations effort to control the outbreak.
According to another recent exclusive report by WND.com, as many as 1.2 million people could die in West Africa in just 6 months. This outcome is based on an econometric simulation model that assumes the World Health Organization and others will be unable to control the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Six months is the minimum time the WHO projects will be necessary to contain the epidemic.
Econometrics research assistant Francis Smart at Michigan State University has concluded through his research, as well as those of others, that the strain of Ebola in the current West African epidemic could go airborne and be transmitted between humans through breathing. Smart’s calculations led him to urge health officials worldwide to use every medical resource available to contain and restrict the spread of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
Smart further wrote: “It is extremely foolish to think that any nation is immune to this disease. So far, in the entire history of Ebola outbreaks up until the present, less than 10,000 people have been infected… if my projections are anywhere close to accurate, then the number of infected people is going to be much higher than has ever occurred previously. This will create many more habitats for which the virus can possible mutate new traits that could increase its transmission rate…the possibility of it becoming airborne could result in a global spread of the disease resulting in unprecedented number of deaths worldwide… it is more than prudent to heavily invest in controlling the number of new patients infected by this disease.”
The threat of the Ebola virus mutation is acknowledged widely and presents cause for serious concern. The virus has reportedly already changed its genome, with unknown consequences. In a recent report published in dw.de, US President Barack Obama was quoted to have said that the Ebola virus, currently attacking western Africa, could mutate – making it even more dangerous due to easier transmutability, making it a “a serious danger to the United States.”
An international research team has found more than 300 genetic changes that make the 214 Ebola virus genomes distinct from the viral genomes tied to previous Ebola outbreaks. Moreover, over 50 changes had occurred since the start of the 2014 outbreak, suggesting the virus is in fact mutating, and with this particular strain, a number of genetic mutations had altered proteins in the virus, potentially with disastrous effect.
Yet another indication that we are certainly in the last days that Jesus prophesied about concerning pestilences (plagues and diseases) amongst other end-time catastrophic events:
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places (Matthew 24:7).