Liberia’s Ebola Challenge and Opportunity: Research Toward a Vaccine

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As they used to say at Cuttington, when Walter Traub (now Dr. Gwenigale) was there, this is nothing short of "metaphysical" or "far-fetched." 

But we at the Daily Observer strongly believe it is NOT: that it is decidedly DOABLE: Liberia should begin NOW the research toward finding a vaccine for Ebola.

We admittedly do not have all the scientists in the world, but for starts, we have Dr. Gwenigale himself, Dr. Vuyu Golakai, a surgeon, Dr. Emmett Dennis, a microbiologist, Dr. Billy Johnson, a gynecologist and obstetrician with a PhD in Medicine, Dr. Wilhemina Jallah, Dr. Sam Brisbane, Dr. Abraham Borbor and Dr. Roseda Marshall, Dr.  Lily Sanvee; Dr. Bankole Jarrett, Dr. Kate Bryant and her scientific sister Tidi Bryant, all three of whom, though now retired, still can help with their contacts in the United States; Dr. Varney Freeman, a surgeon; Dr. Jerome Washington, a heart specialist, Dr. Juliette Phelps Maxwell, a surgeon, Dr. James Elliott, Dr. T.K. Slewion, Dr. Adama Sirleaf and Dr. Estrada Bernard II,  all practicing in the USA; and all the other Liberian scientists and medical doctors practicing around the world, especially in the USA and Europe.

These, we think, are a good start.  Dr. Gwenigale and Dr. Bernice Dahn, Liberia's Health and Social Welfare Minister and Chief Medical Officer, respectively, and Dr. Johnson, Chief Medical Officer at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, should lead the charge.  They should consult with all our scientists on the ground, convene a retreat and put on paper a basic research design and circulate it to their colleagues around the world.  All Liberian scientists, wherever they are, would be interested and could grab the idea and go running with it, making contacts with their fellow scientists wherever they are, to help research this deadly disease toward developing a vaccine against it.

The scientists at the Liberia Institute for Tropical Medicine (LITM) in Charlesville, near Roberts International Airport, would be a good place to start. As we have always said, MONEY is NOT the problem.  Long before one cent is raised, people want to see a concrete and challenging IDEA whose time has come.  If they are convinced that it is a worthy cause, they will find the money.  We are positive that the few Liberians with money, such as Bill Morris, Benoni Urey and Emmanuel Shaw; and George Soros (Open Society), Bill Clinton and Tony Blair–friends of Ellen, all–and philanthropists Bill and Malinda Gates, the Amazon and Google people and so many other wealthy and good-hearted ones, would heartily embrace this idea and help support it.

The three monied Liberians mentioned–Morris, Urey and Shaw—could begin by financing and hosting the first retreat–probably at Cuttington, Du Side Hospital or some other appropriate venue, and contribute the seed money to start this important project.  The Daily Observer would be happy to provide all the necessary publicity and promotion for the project idea.

Others, seeing that we have cast our buckets where we are, would join in and help carry the idea forward.

We pray that Drs. Gwenigale, Johnson, Dahn and all our other scientists on the ground would put aside whatever doubts and fears that may arise, embrace this idea and start the ball rolling.  As mentioned earlier, this idea is NOT far-fetched; it is decidedly DOABLE.

Once we start, scientists in Guinea, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where Ebola started, will join in.

Let us seize the initiative NOW, rather than wait for others to do what at least we can START doing for ourselves!

Here, meanwhile, is an opportunity to develop a data base of ALL Liberian scientists in the USA, Europe and elsewhere who we are sure would welcome the idea to come forward and do something good for Africa.  We call upon Drs. Bryant, Jarrett, Washington and Phelps-Maxwell, Elliott, Slewion, Bernard II and Adama Sirleaf, all of whom are in the USA, to begin now putting together the Liberian scientists’ data base.

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