Ebola - the missing blood

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Thousands of Ebola blood samples collected during the 2014-2016 epidemic in West Africa have been shipped all around the world. Today, nobody knows where they all ended up.

  • €15,790 Budget in Euros
  • 2018 Final release date
  • 1 Round winner
  • 3 Locations
  • 3 Durations in months

About 269,000 blood samples were extracted from patients during the most deadly Ebola epidemic in 2014-2016 in West-Africa. Thousands of these samples were shipped all over the world to the UK, US, France, Germany, and beyond.

Today, nobody knows where they all ended up, or how they’re being used, raising fears that they might have fallen into the wrong hands. In several countries (France, UK and US) the location of the samples is classified under national security. It's impossible to know how many samples are stored in fridges around the world.

The patients who were were diagnosed are unaware that a sample of their bodies is still kept in test tubes and used for research - they didn't give their consent to it - which raises serious ethical questions.

Many West African researchers are upset that the samples have left because they are a precious research material. While well-funded institutions around the world are using the blood of their citizens in very expensive labs, they have been left with next to nothing.


Image: Ebola virus virion, by Cynthia Goldsmith (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

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