Ebola convalescent serum–I should have guessed!

The antibody manRemember how strange it seemed when an Ebola patient was imported from West Africa into the US? Remember the odd scene when he was filmed walking around in an isolation moon suit in Atlanta? It almost seemed insane that the Centers for Disease Control had brought such a patient right into our midst.

As a writer of medical thrillers I–of all people–should have got it right off the bat. It was all about convalescent serum. Dr. Kent Brantly was not only a walking case of the world’s most dreaded disease, but he was also a walking gold mine of cure. As he recovers from the virus, his immunity can be passed on to other patients by dosing with his blood serum.

Duh. I should have spotted that one coming. Wasn’t my first professionally published medical mystery, Blood Tide, all about saving oneself with a dose of convalescent serum? And, weren’t the heroes of my tale researchers who were busy creating Zmapp-like mixtures of antibody molecules for treating the disease?

I’ll have to admit I wasn’t paying very close attention to what was going on in the real world. But now with NBC reporting that Brantly’s blood has been used to treat several other patients, including Nina Pham, the Dallas nurse who contracted the virus from Thomas Eric Duncan, the only out-of-control case to invade America so far, it’s all becoming clear. The CDC has been planning to use convalescent sera all along. That’s why they imported a couple of moon-suited ebola patients. Something tells me there may be more, before this is all over.

NeahVirusI guess even when one is a writer of novels like The Neah Virus, in which an ebola-related virus breaks out in the US in the rainforests of Washington State, one can still miss a clue in the real world where truth can be stranger–or at least more convoluted–than fiction.

In my book (well, in my NEXT book, maybe) the intrepid researchers of the CDC stand out as sharp and highly motivated people who grapple with lethal threats on a daily basis, trying to keep the rest of us safe and sound. Keep up the great work, CDC!

Now then. Suppose I write a little tale about a fictitious Liberian missionary…

About Tom Hopp

Thomas P Hopp is a scientist and author living in Seattle. He writes medical thrillers, natural disaster novels, and the Dinosaur Wars science fiction series.
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