Sure, pharmacists and chemists had their place, but he was the leading point of the needle. Field botanists didn’t get the glory for curing diseases, but without undiscovered flora and fauna that produced undocumented chemical compounds what would there be for the glory hounds in R&D to work with? If anyone was to cure the plague that had befallen mankind, it would be someone like Harris.
This new epidemic was particularly nasty to deal with. A year or more incubation time followed by acute symptoms leading to fatality within days of onset for 93% of the infected. Without symptoms during incubation, it had already spread beyond CDC control and was now a pandemic in almost every major nation.
Resources were spread very thin trying to find the cure, so funding was far tighter than it had been on his past expeditions. Worse, if he couldn’t produce some sort of meaningful result, he was likely to lose funding in favor of some more promising researcher. Still, he knew that the answer had to lay somewhere in the jungle around him. He just had to collect as many samples as possible for analysis.
Months now of collecting had preceded shipping a large box of samples to the states. Further months passed before his next batch was ready to send and word of the first returned. The letter that came with the analysis shocked him. None of his samples except sample 4563 had shown any effect on the disease. 4563 had accelerated the incubation rate to just a few days in the lab rats. Pending the results of his current samples, funding was being cut.
He was a scientist yes, but he also trusted his instincts. The cure was here somewhere waiting to be found. If there wasn’t something in his current batch of samples though, how was he going to convince them to keep his funding, let alone get them to send the much needed supplies to start doing some of the testing in the field?
“Hold on sending that sample batch until I can write a return letter.” He blurted and stepped outside. What was the use? All he had was a box of uncertain samples and one certain sample that makes the problem worse. At least he had found something that had some sort of effect on the disease. Could they use it to determine the catalyst for the onset of symptoms? Perhaps, but they were probably already aware of that by now or they would have seen 4563 as a sign to continue his funding.
Harris slumped against a wall with pen and notepad, feeling heavy hearted. The answer struck him like a bolt. Quickly scrawling his response, he laughed. “Fools! Sample 4563 means that we can get results on the effectiveness of any curative in days instead of months or more!” A cure? No, but it was a piece of the puzzle and they had completely missed it. The rest of the pieces had to be here.