Charles Arntzen is the Regents’ Professor and Florence Ely Nelson Presidential Chair of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. Dr. Arntzen is known as a pioneer in the development of edible plant-based vaccines, and he has also been a key collaborator on what appears to be a promising new Ebola drug.
The Washington Post recently reported that:
It took nearly three decades of tireless research and countless millions of U.S. government dollars to produce a few grams of the experimental Ebola drug that may have saved the lives of two U.S. missionaries stricken by the virus in West Africa.
And now some are asking this question: If the drug did help missionaries Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, whose conditions appear to be improving, could the same drug be given to the hundreds of people dying of Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria?
What would it cost? What are the ethics of distributing a drug that had never been tested on humans in foreign countries — even if medical authorities could persuade people to take it? And how fast could it be done?
“Two months,” said Charles J. Arntzen, a professor at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, who has collaborated for the past 15 years with Mapp Biopharmaceutical, the small San Diego company that produced the experimental serum given to the two Americans. “Maybe they could do it in a month. If they were [already] planning on it, I’m sure they could produce 10,000 doses in a month.”
Anthony S. Fauci, director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was more cautious in an interview on CNN on Tuesday. “It is not easy to make this serum,” he said. “The number of doses that are available right now, today . . . is less than a handful.
Two months, or maybe even one month! Wow, this certainly seems like a miracle, right? The only problem is this guy is kind of creepy. In fact, he was apparently caught in 2012 joking about culling 25% of the world’s population to solve the challenging problem of feeding 8 billion people.
It was all caught on video:
Quite the comedian.