By TLB Staff Writer: Christina England
In recent years, there has been an influx of new epidemics and even pandemics of diseases that the majority of us have never heard of. Examples of these are bird flu, swine flu (H1N1), SARS, dengue fever and ebola. With each new disease comes a new vaccine, which suddenly appears ready and waiting, as if by magic. Let’s face it; the vaccine for ebola seemed to be ready for testing literally weeks after ebola was first reported.
Well, guess what, there is another new disease, just around the corner, as according to several news reports, a viral disease known as Chikungunya has been spreading at an alarming rate.
In September 2014, Fox News reported:
“The chikungunya virus, a mosquito-borne illness that causes high fevers and sometimes intense pain, is spreading rapidly throughout the Caribbean.”
“Now, numerous cases of the disease have appeared in the United States – including 25 in Florida – from travelers who contracted the disease while out of the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And experts say it’s only a matter of time before it begins spreading among local mosquitos within the U.S.
But it all changed in 2013, when health experts found that sustained transmission of the chikungunya virus had occurred in the Caribbean, meaning people on the islands were starting to become infected by local mosquitos. Now the virus is widespread, with up to 17 different countries in the Caribbean reporting cases of the disease.” (own emphasis)
If the virus is widespread, as stated by Fox News, how did the travelers infect the local mosquitoes?
Virus Now Widespread
On November 18, 2014, the CDC published a list of the growing number of countries and territories where cases of the chikungunya virus have been reported. They are as follows:
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Republic of Congo
Federal States of Micronesia
Papua New Guinea
Antigua and Barbuda
British Virgin Islands
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
Turks and Caicos Islands
US Virgin Islands
What is Chikungunya Virus?
The Chikungunya virus, commonly known as CHIKV, is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. After being bitten, an infected person will suffer symptoms including fever, headache, severe joint pain, swelling and a rash within 3-7 days. Fortunately, although the CHIKV virus is unpleasant, it is not known to be life-threatening and the symptoms should last no longer than a week. For more information, see the CDC Factsheet.
Interestingly, the CDC Factsheet, which was updated on September 18, 2014, stated very clearly that:
“There is no vaccine or medication to prevent chikungunya virus infection or disease.”
However, do not take a sigh of relief quite yet, because as we all know, the CDC has a habit of being a little economical with the truth, which appears to have happened in this case.
Vaccine for CHIKV Being Tested on Humans
On August 25, 2014, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) stated that “as of August 8th 2014 more than 570,000 confirmed or suspected cases had been reported throughout the Americas. The first 2 locally acquired infections were detected in Florida in mid-July.”
Naturally, with this number of infections or even suspected infections, a vaccine was needed as soon as possible, and, guess what – there is one, ready and waiting. The NIH stated:
“NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and colleagues tested an experimental chikungunya vaccine in non-human primates. They found that all the vaccinated animals were protected from infection by the virus.
Whereas traditional vaccines are typically made from either killed viruses or weakened live viruses, the experimental vaccine is a virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine. These vaccines contain outer shell proteins of the virus but lack components the virus needs to replicate. Because they contain no viral genetic material, VLPs can’t become active viruses, and don’t need to be produced under high-level biocontainment conditions.”
Note that the NIH said that the vaccine has been tested on primates and not humans.
However, I found another study titled Safety and tolerability of chikungunya virus-like particle vaccine in healthy adults: a phase 1 dose-escalation trial that was written by Lee-Jah Chan, MD, et al. and published in The Lancet on August 15, 2014.
Dr. Lee-Jah Chan’s study was aimed at discovering the safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of a new vaccine for the Chikungunya. It was funded by the Intramural Research Program of the Vaccine Research Center, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institutes of Health.
Yes, that’s right; the NIH, the organization that stated “NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and colleagues tested an experimental chikungunya vaccine in non-human primates” just ten days later.
Was this the same vaccine or a different one?
According to the study, Dr. Lee-Jah Chan and his team tested the vaccine on 25 healthy adult volunteers. They stated:
“VRC 311 was a phase 1, dose-escalation, open-label clinical trial of a virus-like particle (VLP) chikungunya virus vaccine, VRC-CHKVLP059-00-VP, in healthy adults aged 18—50 years who were enrolled at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (Bethesda, MD, USA).”
The authors concluded that:
“The chikungunya VLP vaccine was immunogenic, safe, and well tolerated. This study represents an important step in vaccine development to combat this rapidly emerging pathogen. Further studies should be done in a larger number of participants and in more diverse populations.”
However, what is even more surprising is this – in June 2000, a paper titled PHASE II SAFETY AND IMMUNOGENICITY STUDY OF LIVE CHIKUNGUNYA VIRUSVACCINE TSI-GSD-218 written by R. Edleman et al., was published by The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
In Edleman’s abstract, he wrote:
“We conducted a phase II, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, safety and immunogenicity study of a serially passaged, plaque-purified live chikungunya (CHIK) vaccine in 73 healthy adult volunteers. Fifty- nine volunteers were immunized one time subcutaneously with the CHIK vaccine and 14 were immunized with placebo (tissue culture fluid). Vaccinees were clinically evaluated intensively for one month, and had repeated blood draws for serological assays (50% plaque-reduction neutralization test) for one year. Except for transient arthralgia in five CHIK vaccinees, the number and severity of local and systemic reactions and abnormal laboratory tests after immunization were similar in CHIK vaccinees and placebo recipients. Fifty-seven (98%) of 58 evaluable CHIK vaccinees developed CHIK neutralizing antibody by day 28, and 85% of vaccinees remained seropositive at one year after immunization. No placebo recipients seroconverted. This promising live vaccine was safe, produced well-tolerated side effects, and was highly immunogenic.”
They stated that the virus was widespread, affecting parts of sub- Saharan Africa, South East Asia, India and the Western Pacific and that numerous epidemics had been reported in these areas. They continued by adding that the widespread geographic distribution, recurrent epidemics, and infection of military personnel, travelers and laboratory staff working with CHIK had indicated the need for a safe and efficacious vaccine.
Now, I can understand how military personnel and travelers could have become infected, but how could a virus that is only transported by mosquitoes be caught by laboratory staff WORKING with the CHIKV?
“An isolate from a patient in Thailand, CHIK strain 15561, was used to develop a small lot of vaccine first passaged in green monkey kidney (GMK) cells and then formalin-inactivated before administration to 16 volunteers. 22 The vaccine produced no untoward reactions and was highly immunogenic. The current live vaccine (Lot 1-85, TSI-GSD-218) was developed at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) and was pro-
duced at the Salk Institute, Swiftwater, PA, from a lot of the GMK-passaged strain 15561 inactivated vaccine by subsequent serial passage in MRC-5 cells. 23 The live vaccine proved to be safe and immunogenic in a phase I trial in 15 alphavirus-naive volunteers. 21 The current phase II, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was designed to provide additional safety and immunogenicity data for live CHIK vaccine TSI-GSD-218.”
From this information, we can conclude that the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases has been testing vaccines for a while.
The researchers concluded that:
“In summary, the live CHIK vaccine was safe, produced well-tolerated side effects such as transient arthralgia in 5 (8%) of 59 volunteers, and was highly immunogenic. It is, therefore, a promising vaccine for use in alphavirus naive individuals.”
If this vaccine is safe and well tolerated as suggested by Edleman and his team, then why has there been no phase three testing for the past 14 years?
Is there something that we are not being told?
Can CHIKV be Passed From Person to Person?
The CHIKV virus is said to be only transmitted by mosquitoes. In fact, The CDC clearly states that:
“Chikungunya (pronunciation: \chik-en-gun-ye) virus is transmitted to people by mosquitoes.”
However, on the same page, the CDC went on to state:
“There is a risk that the virus will be imported to new areas by infected travelers.”
How is this possible?
Of course, there is the slim chance that the traveler may transport mosquito eggs, but the mosquito eggs’ survival would surely depend upon the traveler’s destination. If survival would not be possible, then we must ask ourselves whether the Chikungumya virus is airborne.
In one study titled Viral infections in workers in hospital and research laboratory settings: a comparative review of infection modes and respective biosafety aspects, written by Pedro B.S. Pedrosa and Telma A.O. Cardoso, the researchers stated:
“The two remaining alphavirus infections occurred in two laboratories in which aerosol inhalation was the mode of infection. The first was an infection of a researcher by chikungunya virus (CHIKV), which was originally reported in 1965. In this instance a suspension of 10% infected mouse brain was used to infect mosquitoes through a nylon membrane. The researcher had had no direct contact with the viral suspension and was certified as having had no mosquito bites during the procedure, leaving only aerosol as the source of infection. Following 8 days of incubation the researcher presented with fever, muscular pain, and rash, and only lymphocytosis as a remarkable feature, being this a mild normal presentation of CHIKV infection.”
The researchers concluded:
“This study reveals unexpected patterns for accidental infections in laboratories and dangerous exceptions to the supposed dynamics of transmission in accidental infections in hospitals, demonstrating the limitation of the real knowledge of the dynamics of accidental infections in these settings. “
What is really going on? One moment, we are clearly being told that there is no vaccine for the Chikungunya virus, when it is clear from studies that such vaccines have been tested and found to be safe and well-tolerated since 2000. Considering how keen the pharmaceutical companies and our governments usually are to get more and more vaccines licensed for use as soon as possible, this raises the question as to whether or not these vaccines are being used without our knowledge.
My research has highlighted the fact that although the virus was originally thought to be only transmitted by mosquitoes, it can also be passed to others through accidental infection, another worrying aspect of this issue.
This leaves us to ask the question: is the current CHIKV epidemic being spread by mosquitoes, or is the virus being spread by some other means?
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