Kenya’s effort to shield its citizens against the deadly Ebola epidemic took a new turn Wednesday after a businessman accused the US government of owning the virus that has killed more than 1,000 people in West Africa and caused havoc in the aviation industry.
Some of Kenya health officers arrange a make shift Ebola screening
desk outside the immigration offices at Kenya-Tanzania
The sensational claim was made in suit papers supporting businessman Joseph Enock Aura’s quest to have the High Court throw out a case filed by the Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) lobby group seeking to compel national carrier Kenya Airways to stop flying to West African nations hit by the Ebola epidemic.
Mr Aura told the court that the United States government had patented the Ebola virus, its vaccine and cure in October 2012 and should be compelled to bring the health crisis to a stop instead of targeting the national carrier.
“Ebola is patented under the United States patent number WO 2010048615 A2 as confirmed by the US patent office and in the same document is an explanation of a cure and vaccine for Ebobun Ebola,” said Harrison Kinyanjui, the lawyer representing Mr Aura.
The World Health Organisation has, however, maintained that there is no licensed cure for the deadly viral disease.
Mr Aura has attached to his suit papers documents showing that the US government tasked Jonathan Towner, Stuart Nichol, James Comer, and Thomas Ksalzek Peirre Rollin, all from the state of Georgia with the job of developing a strain of the virus, a vaccine and a cure for it.
The document further states that the intention of the assignment was to find a scientific method for “detection and treatment of Ebobun infection”.
Mr Aura made the claim as Nigeria, one of the affected West African countries, declined to use an experimental drug from the United States. Nigeria’s Health minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said the drug had failed to meet safety and ethical requirements.
The drug Nano Silver was developed by Natural Solutions Foundation, an American company that claims it is capable of curing not only Ebola, but also other communicable diseases.
High Court judge Isaac Lenaola told Mr Aura to serve Cofek, KQ, the Attorney-General and the cabinet secretaries for the Transport, Health and Interior ministries with his application before close of business Wednesday.
Mr Aura argues that the matter would not have gone before the court had it been put to the public for discussion and determination.
“The story generated by these proceedings has gained notoriety around the globe as an appendage of the information about ‘Ebola’. The impression generated is that the Kenyan consumer is actively backing these proceedings, which is certainly not the case,” the businessman said.
The outbreak of Ebola, a deadly haemorrhagic fever that has so far claimed more than 1200 lives in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, has left the world with a global health crisis that has paralysed businesses worth billions of shillings worldwide.
The served parties have until Monday to respond to the application before hearing begins on Tuesday.