Ebola and ethics: autopsy of a failure

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h2105 (Published 23 April 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2105

Re: Ebola and ethics: "Are vaccine trials going on somewhere in Africa?":

Ebola and Ethics: “Are vaccine trials going on somewhere in Africa?”

Dr J K Anand’s question “Are vaccine trials going on somewhere in Africa?”[1] has been answered from Ghana where the natives have protested in no uncertain terms [2]. Under the Banner of “Stop ‘criminal’ Ebola vaccines trial in Ghana – Coalition” the Coalition of Ghana’s Independence Now (CGIN) has issued a communique and broadcast “We consider the human experimentation of Ebola vaccine in a country with no Ebola case as criminal, human rights abuse, thievery, and a total disrespect of Ghanaians as human beings” [2]. The communique went on: “We want to say without fear or favour that Ebola is not just a disease but rather a well-planned business. A business where people have created an artificial problem and are now looking for a market to sell the solution and we are telling Ghanaians beforehand that there is and will be no way by which Ghana can go through this Ebola virus human experiment without Ebola being spread countrywide.”[2]


All this rings an ominous bell: “Emerging Viruses – AIDS & Ebola: Nature, Accident or Intentional” [3] is the title of Leonard Horowitz’s remarkably well referenced 595-page book that meticulously dissects Conspiracy Theories from Conspiracy Facts [3]. Already, Lancet has published an informed Editorial on “Conspiracy Theories of HIV/AIDS” [4], but it was the same Lancet that alerted the world with this extraordinary statement of Conspiracy Fact: “While one group of scientists is devoting its energies to prevent diseases, another is devising man-made epidemics” [5] leading to what Lord Ritchie-Calder called “Public Health in reverse” [5]. Captioning its Editorial “The Biological Bomb” Lancet warned of the potential of great evil that Recombinant DNA research was capable of, and that there was a “biological bomb lying at the heart of the nucleus, ticking us to destruction” [5]. Ghanaians now protesting against Ebola Virus Vaccine Experiments prefer to explain the Ebola Virus Disease Epidemic that began in Guinea and afflicted Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria [6, 7] through a Public Health in Reverse exercise to accepting the “scientific” disinformation that Africans eating bats brought this calamity on themselves.


Two living American Presidents have confessed openly that some scientists from the USA behaved shamefully; their Conspiracy Facts regarding Third World Scientific Initiatives having been exposed. These confessions, accompanied by apologies from Presidents Bill Clinton [8] and Barack Obama [9] and broadcast world-wide were heard and discussed seriously by Ghanaians. Indeed, I said in the BMJ after President Obama’s apology over the disgraceful Guatemala syphilis study that such scientific misbehaviour places “International cooperative research in jeopardy” [10]. When scientists apparently offering to help us as body guards of Ghana’s health, are deemed to be nothing less than assassins then we may as well say goodbye to international cooperative research. What Dr Christian Gericke considers to be “compassionate use of experimental drugs and vaccines” [11] is, through the hindsight of research intrigue, considered to be poison. The fact that Sophie Aries [12], writing last month in the BMJ on Ebola Vaccines, does not acknowledge anywhere that there are two kinds of scientists working in Third World countries when she mentions the word “scientists” in almost every paragraph of her detailed article shows she knows nothing about what Lord Ritchie-Calder said in Lancet, nor that she has ever read any of the compelling evidence available today that there are scientists with Nazi proclivities in our midst [3, 13, 14]. Didier Fassin and Helen Schneider said that much in the BMJ [15] which made me lament how difficult it was becoming to tell “the good White man who has come to help us” from the one intent on “Public Health in reverse” for population control [16].


Fortunately, many Ghanaians including those protesting today against Ebola Vaccine experimentation boast of their excellent teachers in the UK who equipped them to see through global health initiatives presented as “just the thing to help Africans”. If one health programme is unfit to be carried out in the UK, our superb teachers have taught us to reject it when suggested to us in Africa. For instance, my excellent training in London, Cambridge and Liverpool Universities equipped me to criticise the present Global Genome Sequencing being carried out ANONYMOUSLY [17, 18] as totally unacceptable to Africans [19] for the same reasons I gave in an invited contribution to a Symposium on Ethics of the Human Genome Diversity Project [20]. I started the HGDP Symposium paper with this quote: “Equo ne credite, Teucri! Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes” (Do not trust the horse, Trojans! Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts) [20], which can now be modified Ebola vaccine-wise to “Ebolae vaccinae ne credite, Ghanaiani! Timeo researcheros dona vaccinata ferentes” [19, 20].


Sophie Arie reported in the BMJ last month “Candidate treatments and vaccines for Ebola were developed only because the United States considered the virus a potential weapon for bioterrorism” [12], and she admitted the possibility that the trials may “result in harmful side effects and deaths” [12]. This confirms much of what Leonard Horowitz already said [3]. We Africans are scared that more viruses will “emerge” to cause epidemics. Sophie Arie tells how the Drug and Vaccine Firms are geared up to tackle more imminent “emerging” viruses [12]. But does it surprise anyone that we Ghanaians are suspicious of the Vaccine Trials Scientists? With us, it all boils down to trust which, frankly, n’existe pas!

Competing Interest: I am Krobo Tribesman identifying with fellow Ghanaians in their fear of Lord Ritchie-Calder’s “scientists who devise man-made epidemics that lead to Public Health in reverse”. [5]

Felix I D Konotey-Ahulu MD(Lond) FRCP(Lond) DTMH(L’pool). Kwegyir Aggrey Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics, University of Cape Coast, Ghana and Consultant Physician Genetic Counsellor in Sickle Cell and Other Haemoglobinopathies, 9 Harley Street Ltd., Phoenix Hospital Group, London W1G 9AL Email: felix@konotey-ahulu.com

1 Anand JK. Ebola and Ethics. Are vaccine trials going on somewhere in Africa? BMJ Rapid Response June 1 2015 www.bmj.com/content/350/bmj.h2105/rr-4 (BMJ 2015; 350: h2105)

2 Coalition for Ghana’s Independence Now (CGIN). Stop “criminal” Ebola vaccines trial in Ghana! Starr FM-on-Line www.starrfmonline.com 103’5 FM May 30 2015 4.00 pm Broadcast & Communique.

3 Horowitz Leonard G. Emerging Viruses – AIDS & Ebola: Nature, Accident or Intentional. Tetrahedron Press 2014, Las Vegas, NV, USA.

4 The Lancet. Conspiracy Theories of HIV/AIDS, Lancet 2005; Vol 365 (Feb 5) p 448.

5 Lancet Annotations. The Biological Bomb. Lancet 1968 (March 20); Volume 1: p 465.

6 Igonoh Ada. “I survived Ebola Virus Disease”. Shared with Bella Naija http://bit.ly/1oPFf42 2014

7 Konotey-Ahulu FID. Dr Ameyo Adadevoh’s Assistant Dr Ada Igonoh survives Ebola Virus Disease. BMJ Rapid Response 10 February 2015 to Anne Gulland’s Obituary to Dr Ameyo Adadevoh http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g7558

8 Clinton President WJ. Apology on br-Gaultehalf of the American Government to 8 survivors of the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment victims. World-wide radio and televfision PBS NewsHour Newsreel Announcement (Jim Lehrer and Charlayne Hunter-Gault) May 16 1997 http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/health/may97/tuskegee_5-16.html

9 Tanne Janice Hopkins. President Obama apologises to Guatemala over 1940’ssyphilis study. BMJ 2010: 341.c5494 October 9, page 750.

10 Konotey-Ahulu FID. President Obama apologises over Guatemala syphilis study: International Cooperative Research in jeopardy. BMJ Rapid Response October 17 2010 [16 references] http://www.bmj.com/rapid-response/2011/11/03/president-obama-apologises-...

11 Gerricke CA. Ebola and Ethics: autopsy of a failure (Editorial). BMJ 2015; 350:h2105 http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h2105 (23 April 2015)

12 Arie Sophie. Ebola: A game changer for vaccines, or a scare that will soon be forgotten? BMJ 2015; 350:h1938

13 Muller-Hill Benno. Murderous Science. Elimination by Scientific Selection of Jews, Gypsies, and Others – Germany 1933-1945 [Translated from German by GR Fraser] Oxford, Oxford University Press 1988.

14 Thairu Kihumbu. The African & AIDS Holocaust: An Historical and Medical Perspective. Nairobi, Kenya 2003. Phoenix Publisher Ltd., ISBN 9966 47 1847.

15 Fassin Didier, Schneider Helen. The Politics of AIDS in South Africa, beyond the controversies. BMJ 2003; 326: 495-497 (March 1)

16 Konotey-Ahulu FID. AIDS in South Africa: Wake-up call and need for paradigm shift. BMJ 2003 Rapid Response to Fassin & Schneider http://www.rethinking.org/bmj/response_30917.html

17 Wise Jacqui. Consortium hopes to sequence genome of 1000 volunteers. BMJ 2008; 336: 237 (2 February).

18 International Consortium http://1000genomes.org/files/100Genomes-NewsRelease.pdf Jan 22 2008 Announcement News Release: The 1000 Genomes Project – Major Sequencing Effort Will Produce Most Detailed Map of Human Genetic Variation to Support Disease Studies.

19 Konotey-Ahulu FID. Sequencing Genome of 1000 Volunteers: Why do this anonymously? African Journal of Health Sciences 2011; Volume 18: pp 37-52 (96 References) http://bit.ly/1CZRIAT or www.ajhsjournal.ro.ke/admin/current/914vpjkSBOS.pdf

20 Konotey-Ahulu FID. Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP): Cogitations of An African Native. Politics and The Life Sciences (PLS) 1999, Vol 18, No 2, pp317-322. [Invited Commentary on Professor David Resnik’s article: The Human Genome Diversity Project – Ethical Problems and Solutions. PMID: 12561789 – PubMed Indexed for MEDLINE]

Competing interests: Competing Interest: I am Krobo Tribesman identifying with fellow Ghanaians in their fear of Lord Ritchie-Calder’s “scientists who devise man-made epidemics that lead to Public Health in reverse”. [5]

02 June 2015
Felix ID Konotey-Ahulu
Kwegyir Aggrey Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics University of Cape Coast and Consultant Physician Genetic Counsellor in Sickle Cell and Other Haemoglobinopathies 9 Harley Street London W1G 9AL
9 Harley Street London W1G 9AL
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