A Tale of Two Ebola-Research Mishaps

ebola virionsToday, as the Washington Post tells this story. It has the feel of a single-source anecdote, of being “too good to check.” It is neat, compact, no one is mentioned by name, and there’s a moral to the story: ready-made for narrative-addicted Posties.

But it is what happened, says the Post, to a Russian infectious-diseases lab tech.

The Russian Mishap as told by the Post

She was an ordinary lab technician with an uncommonly dangerous assignment: drawing blood from Ebola-infected animals in a secret military laboratory. When she cut herself at work one day, she decided to keep quiet, fearing she’d be in trouble. Then the illness struck.

“By the time she turned to a doctor for help, it was too late,” one of her overseers, a former bio­weapons scientist, said of the accident years afterward. The woman died quickly and was buried, according to one account, in a “sack filled with calcium hypochlorite,” or powdered bleach.

The 1996 incident might have been forgotten except for the pathogen involved — a highly lethal strain of Ebola virus — and where the incident occurred: inside a restricted Russian military lab that was once part of the Soviet Union’s biological weapons program. Years ago, the same facility in the Moscow suburb of Sergiev Posad cultivated microbes for use as tools of war. Today, much of what goes on in the lab remains unknown.

via Ebola crisis rekindles concerns about secret research in Russian military labs – The Washington Post.

In fact, there is a case of a Russian researcher dying of laboratory-acquired ebola — in 2004. Here’s Judith Miller at the New York Times. University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy in 2004. However, the unfortunate Russian researcher in 2004 was in Novosibirsk at the Vector (formerly Biopreparat) facility, not near Moscow.

Now, we’re familiar through work with a similar mishap in the United States, with a somewhat better outcome, that happened about the same time.

The American Mishap

USAMRIIDOn February 11, 2004, a scientist was injecting a test treatment into laboratory animals (mice) deliberately infected with a mouse-adapted strain of Ebola Zaire, at the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases in order to study the disease. She inadvertently stuck herself with the needle. It went right through her bio-safety suit glove and her surgical glove into the soft muscle of her hand. (She was trying to inject the sample into the mouse’s belly, whilst holding the mouse in her hand). She was in a Bio Safety Level-4 containment lab at the time, the strictest and most inconvenient of medical precautions.

The accident and its aftermath has been written up by Kortepeter et al. in the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases in 2008. Here’s their description of the accident:

The person had been following standard procedure, holding the mice while injecting them intraperitoneally with an immune globulin preparation. While the person was injecting the fifth mouse with a hypodermic syringe that had been used on previous mice, the animal kicked the syringe, causing the needle to pierce the person’s left-hand gloves, resulting in a small laceration. The virologist immediately squeezed the site to force the extravasation of blood. After decontamination of the blue suit in the chemical shower, the injured site was irrigated with 1 liter of sterile water and then scrubbed with povidone-iodine for 10 minutes.

In terms of exposure risk, the needle was presumed to be contaminated with virus-laden blood, although it was suspected that low levels of virus were present on the needle. The animals had not yet manifested signs of infection, and much contamination may have been removed mechanically when the needle pierced the gloves. The local decontamination of the site also reduced potential for infection.

BSL-4 is used for pathogens which are highly contagious, lethal, and for which there are no suitable vaccines or therapies. The most common BSL-4 agents are hemorrhagic fevers, including filoviruses like ebola, Marburg, and Lassa; and CCHF. (We’re probably forgetting a few). Many of the nastiest nasties like Yersinia pestis (plague), yellow fever, Rickettsia spp., are BSL-3 because there exists an approved or experimental vaccine or treatment for them in humans.

BSL-4 implies, among other things:

  1. Hermetically-sealed rooms with highly-engineered HVAC systems to control any air interchange; HEPA filters catch even the tiniest viral particles. The BSL-4 facility is physically isolated from non-BSL-4 buildings or areas. Operations are conducted in accordance with a detailed procedures manual.
  2. Permanent underpressure (so air would never flow out if the seal leaked or was breached; a truly leak-proof seal is a near impossibility, but it can be approached asymptotically).
  3. At a minimum shower-in, shower-out through an airlock.
  4. Minimum number of people allowed in. All personnel must have (extensive) BSL-4 general and facility-specific training.
  5. Everyone inside must wear a positive pressure personnel suit. Every individual’s suit has a segregated air supply.
  6. No clothes from outside go in, no clothes from inside come out.
  7. Anything that does come out, comes out through sterilization measures, usually an autoclave.
  8. Even inside the BSL-4 containment, work with BSL-4 pathogens takes place under hoods or (preferably) in cabinets.

These are international rules and we’d assume the Russians follow them also.

Anyway, she thought the plunger didn’t move, but instantly reported the accident, and took basic first-aid measures. And things started to happen. Because an ebola patient is not infectious for 24 hours, she was allowed to go home and pack for a month away from home. (Home wasn’t very far, because the same facility where she worked hosted her quarantine area). Then she came back to USAMRIID, and walked through the round stainless-steel vault door of RIID’s “Patient Isolation Suite,” or, as everybody called it, The Slammer. There she would stay for 21 days.

If she lived that long.

They made it as comfortable as possible for her. She had a computer and TV, and could stay in touch and read the news — including reports on her own health in the local paper — on the internet. She had a VCR (yeah, not DVD) with a bunch of old movies.

There were basically three possibilities: (a), she hadn’t been infected; (b), she had, and would soon be dead of the disease; or (c), she had been infected, but would be one of the minority that beat the disease. The postdoctoral researcher was young, but adult, and healthy, which helped. And all the skills of all of RIID and its many peer organizations and cooperating scientists were galvanized into action.

An Experimental Hail-Mary Pass

In addition to the other precautions, RIID scientists and their industry and academic peers took a look at whether any experimental therapy might work. A small company in Corvallis, Oregon, AVI BioPharma (formerly AntiVirals, Inc). had been working for years on a concept called Morpholino Oligomers (called PMOs sometimes, abbreviating a longer name), which interposes a synthetic therapeutic molecule — the PMO — between the patient’s cell’s nucleic acids and the single-stranded RNA virus causing the disease. (Viruses use the infected organism’s cellular mechanisms to reproduce themselves). At the time it was a highly experimental therapy, unproven not just for ebola in humans, but for any disease in humans, any primate, or even any laboratory animal.

Because viruses need living cells to reproduce, the scientists at AVI were big believers in direct-to-animal testing, using rodents, ferrets and non-human primates. But with just 21 days max, if Researcher X had been infected, there would be no time for testing. Worse, given the state of technology of 2004, it took about 8 days to make the morpholino in potentially-therapeutic quantities, but it took several days to sequence a pathogen’s genome, and the gene sequence of the infectious virus strain was necessary to start morpholino development! Here, the researchers caught a break: since RIID was working with a known ebola strain, they had a good sequence in-house. The gene sequence of the virus was blasted through the internet to AVI, and morpholino production started. In a very short time, a tiny vial of potentially life-saving — but completely untested — ebola therapeutic morpholino was on a jet from Oregon to Maryland.

It was eight days after the researcher’s lab accident.

A Lucky Break

Medicines are tightly controlled in the various nations of the world. The US has an early-20th-century food-and-drug-act with many subsequent amendments, one that tends to strangle real medical research — like morpholino research — while giving legal cover to bogus nostrums and snake-oils (all the stuff that advertises on radio; it’s all crap). But giving an experimental molecule that hasn’t even been given to a mouse to a human is strengstens verboten. Still, if Researcher X had broken with ebola, they’d have given it to her. But the researcher got a lucky break. She never tested positive for the virus, never developed systems, and walked out of the Patient Containment Suite for the last time on 3 March 2004, 21 days after entering.

If she had broken with ebola, perhaps morpholino research would be further along today. But perhaps she’d be dead; there is that, and we wouldn’t wish her dead to advance science.

Science will still get there.

How Science is Getting There Today

Most of the players have moved on. The top guy in RIID’s program then went over to DHS’s expensive, duplicative, and troubled biodefense program. AVI BioPharma has become Cambridge, Massachusetts -based Sarepta, which continues morpholino research and recently reported successful non-human primate trials for a morpholino therapeutic for Marburg virus. Like ebola, Marburg is a Cat A bioterrorism threat agent, and Sarepta’s research has taken place in collaboration with USAMRIID.

One thing has changed. A 2011 rebuild of several buildings at USAMRIID eliminated the Slammer. RIID is hard up for space, and the Patient Isolation Suite hadn’t been used since 2004. The 2004 incident described here was its first use since 1985; from 1972 when the Slammer opened to 1985, 20 other patients were considered and 17 were admitted, some of which for diseases later downgraded to BSL-2 or -3 pathogens. None of them broke with the disease; it seems like every case was an exercise of due caution. The managers of RIID concluded that any future BSL-4 patients, including suspected ebola exposures, could be adequately contained in local hospitals. The duplicative new DHS BSL-4 facility at Ft Detrick (NBACC), and a triplicative planned new facility (NBAF), an exercise in Nebraska Avenue empire-building which DHS is extremely defensive about, also do not contain any facility for isolating infected researchers.

21 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Ebola-Research Mishaps

  1. Kirk

    I don’t have a warm fuzzy feeling about any of this.

    I’m a pragmatic type, and fairly well-read on these sorts of diseases for a layman, and it baffles me how these geniuses that our tax dollars are paying for haven’t worked through and processed all the implications of these diseases.

    Point one: Our current hospital “fleet”, for lack of a better word, is not designed, prepared, or capable of dealing with a mass pandemic in any form. Compare/contrast the old “obsolete” designs of the old days, before antibiotics with the current crop. Old Madigan out at Fort Lewis was a perfect example of a hospital designed with the lessons of dealing with mass epidemic disease–Horizontal layout, with separation between wards in order to prevent the spread of disease. Areas of the hospital could be sectioned off, if need be, and normal care provided while the quarantine section dealt with things. Nowadays, the “modern” hospital is constructed like a hotel, with no provision for dealing with mass epidemic disease. You don’t even have separate triage facilities constructed–The damn ER is right there in the midst of the complex, where you’re going to cross-contaminate every single patient. You also don’t have separation in the ER, where every room should be capable of being separable from the rest of the hospital in cases of things like Ebola. On top of that, the sewer/waste disposal systems are cross-connected, as well, and a lot of the hospitals don’t even have provision for separating bio-hazardous waste from the waste stream going out into the public sanitation systems–Which is purely idiotic.

    Point two–I don’t see anyone gearing up to fabricate and disperse portable systems that could fill in for these deficiencies. We badly need to have a set of portable hospital facilities, possibly based on the CP DEPMEDS standards, that could be trucked into an area where an epidemic is under way in order to provide for triage and treatment of the victims without utterly destroying the existing medical facility afterwards. One of the big “unmentionables” here is how we are likely to be forced to essentially tear down a facility like Dallas Presbyterian in the course of sanitizing it after a major epidemic. Far better if we have temporary facilities that conduct triage out in the parking lots, and those facilities go into the incinerator afterwards, while the remaining high-cost permanent facility remains uncontaminated.

    Point three–The CP DEPMEDS standard design is meant to operate in a chemically- or biologically-contaminated area. The focus is mostly on chemical weapons, but someone needs to do a re-design and emphasize biological hazards, and then design a temporary, portable facility that could be shipped into an epidemic area with great speed, and then set up to conduct triage and treatment in the midst of an epidemic. Such equipment needs to be procured, and then maintained in storage areas throughout the country with easy access to shipment and transportation networks, and it needs to be modular so that it can scale from a few dozen to several thousand victims.

    None of this stuff should be an issue; the problem is a lack of foresight and willpower. With all that CDC has wasted money on just since the 9/11 debacle, we ought to have had all this stuff in the can and ready to go, with this current Ebola problem simply being the first occasion to field-test and verify our procedures. Instead, we’ve spent millions studying such ephemera as why lesbians get fat, and other idiocies that have little to do with disease control.

    Frankly, I think the lot of these idiots ought to be hanging from lamp posts. They’ve wasted billions of tax dollars, and more importantly, they’ve wasted precious time. We should be set up for this crap with civil defense plans and equipment that has already been designed, built, and tested. What do we have? Not a damn thing. Every one of these idiots in the CDC administration ought to be fired, and banned from every working in a public position ever again. Malfeasance and incompetence of the highest order is what we’ve gotten from them, and the sanctions ought to be severe.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Problems with biodefense w/r/t ebola:

      1. Stovepiped, non-cooperating DOD/DHS/DHHS entities, stovepiped and not cooperating. Biggest unforced error was creation of DHS and assignment of a bio-d mission to it.

      2. Lavishly overfunded entities blowing the money on stuff their non-technical, appointee/lawyer/lobbyist bosses always wanted to do.

      3. It’s really HARD. You can’t cure diseases (which are organisms that themselves mutate and evolve to counter your countermeasures!) with money alone, and money doesn’t accelerate research except in the few places where lack of money has bottlenecked something. The DOD’s spent many tens of millions on morpholimo oligomers since the initial paper in 1999, 15+ years ago, and we have yet to have human trial one. Indeed, we just got to NHP trials. And guess what, it’s not for the disease of the day, it’s for Marburg (which is a different, but closely related, virus).

  2. Aesop

    I’ve been cranking the blog posts 2-7x/day for the last 2 weeks on the current clown show, and I pointed out way back in late July/early August how sideways this could/would go.

    Suffice it to say if I could pick horse race winners with the precision that my suppositions have come true, I’d be retired on my secluded island with prodigious breeding stock of attractive females, exactly as suggested at the end of Dr. Strangelove. Alas, seeing how TPTB were going to screw this pooch doesn’t translate to any gainful remuneration elsewhere.

    But a huge +1 on the need for self-contained med facilities. They work for far more than epidemic/pandemics.
    Multiple major hospitals were taken out completely by the Northridge quake, because they lost both power and running water, not even counting the ones with structural damage/failure.
    And nobody, anywhere, bottom to top, coast to coast, had made any provision for a modular hospital-in-a-box, that could be picked up, transported by air, rail, or ship, dropped in a handy large parking lot, assembled, plugged in, and opened for business.

    But since 2002, the CDC Biohazard Emergency Preparedness budget alone has spent $10B. And we still don’t have 20, 10, 5, or even one such shake-and-bake hospital available for use anywhere in the country.

    There’s also no pre-assigned, dedicated, and regularly trained staff anywhere.
    Notably, both the ER and ICU at THP-Dallas were twin-impacted by
    a) exposed staff being quarantined, and
    b) staff walkouts once it became clear they were working for @$$clowns.
    Yesterday, a significant number of Bellevue NYC hospital staff members called in not just sick, but “F*** no, I’m not coming in until that SOB is dead or discharged!” sick.

    We thus have no people, no facilities, no supplies, no equipment, no plan, and no clue what to about this, and the 23 available BL4 treatment beds are actually only staffed to handle 8-11 actual patients, a fact they cleverly forgot to mention to people in their PR brochures for the four of them. And the Missoula facility at St. Patrick’s is being held in reserve for its intended purpose: patients exposed from lab work at NIAID (and now CDC and USAMRIID, since the contiguous beds at Emory, U. NE, and NIH-Bethesda are being used for the slop-over from the current misadventures in medicine).

    We are about to be shat upon, from a very great height.

    1. Kirk

      Yeah, I made note of that fact about the lack of pre-prepared “hospitals in boxes” while I was reading up on this, as of late. The conversion of the CP DEPMEDS designs is probably the closest thing we have that’s even close to being ready to go, and nobody is even bothering to ramp up preparations to buy/build these damn things.

      They need someone like WeatherHaven up in Canada to start design work on cargo-container isolation facilities, ones that can be stacked/laid out horizontally for use in what amount to field hospitals for civilians. Use of the existing facilities is going to be disastrous for containment efforts, and in terms of long-term damage to permanent facilities.

      I think we’re going to have to make some laws, somewhere, that allow for prosecution of politicians and bureaucrats for malpractice. The money was allocated, but it wasn’t spent properly. With the CDC budget, we should have these portable/temporary hospital designs sitting on the shelf, ready for production to deal with crisis situations, and there should be a couple of sets of them ready to go, stockpiled, in order to deal with the time it takes to ramp-up for large-scale production and deployment.

      All those damn excess cargo containers in the system? They ought to be designing to use those as temporary facilities, and then be able to rapidly deploy them.

      We’re governed by morons, I’m afraid. This crisis may help to point that out, and make some changes, but I think we’re just going to have to crash and burn before the general public learns, and starts demanding better service from the politicians and bureaucrats.

      1. Hognose Post author

        I’m trying to think of where I was where they showed me just that — high-level BSL lab in a container or a series of containers, completely self-contained. Might have been Texas A&M University Med School. They’re lashed up with a local firm that makes the units.

    2. Hognose Post author

      Yeah, but we have three or four different agency-head positions, agency-deputy-head positions, airhead-PR-dolly positions, and every kind of administrative overhead position known to that other modern filovirus, Bureaucratia retardans, all of which can be filled with the sort of nepot most recently illustrated by the talentless, immoral, but supremely-connected, Hunter Biden.

      Exit question:

    3. Kirk

      Oh, and the other thing?

      Take a look at what they’re planning to do with the Army/Marines in Liberia: Build facilities, on site. The indicators I’ve seen so far don’t show a hell of a lot of pre-planning or thought. My guess is that the Corps of Engineers is looking feverishly through its historical files, and dusting off the old designs dating back to General Leonard Wood, he who broke the back of Yellow Fever. His work is what resulted in the old-school hospital designs like Old Madigan.

      So you can visualize what I’m talking about:

      http://www.historylink.org/db_images/MadiganGeneralHospital_FtLewis_1963.jpg

      The wards are all the interlinked 1-story buildings you see in the background, while the administration offices and so forth were in the two-story buildings up front. The designs and layouts of these facilities originated in the old-school epidemic disease hospitals built around the turn of the 19th/20th centuries. I think we’re going to have to re-visit why they did things that way, and move away from the current school of hospital design, which is for a massive resort hotel-like complex. In all likelihood, we are going to need designs going forward that can be easily compartmentalized, and then be able to completely sterilize/destroy the parts of the facilities that are contaminated. You can’t do that with something like the New Madigan Army Hospital, shown here:

      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9d/MAMC_in_the_fall.jpg

        1. Miles

          gads it still is a small world.
          Two hospitals we’ve all apparently ‘visited’.
          Yep, I spent the better part of three weeks in the ‘Old’ Madigan hospital and awhile at Landstuhl as well. Both times 20+ years ago.

      1. Bill K

        Well-written, Kirk! But your comment about ‘how these geniuses that our tax dollars are paying for haven’t worked through and processed all the implications of these diseases’ has got to be most certainly rhetorical.

        What we can rely on, when the elites fail, is panic, and self-isolation that brings the economy to a standstill if and when a major US outbreak occurs. And then I suspect the public will go postal and quite a number of ‘these geniuses’ will have lives that are nasty and brutish, if not short.

        Like my RN wife always says, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” I don’t think Joe Sixpack has entirely lost his ability to git-er-done when it comes to protecting family and using the common sense the elites have lost.

        If martial law is when the government runs roughshod over normal citizen rights in an emergency, what is the opposite, when citizens run roughshod over administrative incompetence? As we surgeons also like to say, “Never let the sun set on an undrained abscess.”

        1. Aesop

          Political hacks. Tumbrels. Guillotines.
          Some assembly required.

          But when Ebola gets here in numbers, we’ll finally have those shovel-ready jobs we’ve been promised.

  3. Expat

    Well now that the seeds of panic have well and truly been sown, I expect a concerted effort by Jihadist actors to bring the disease into the country. One self dosed extremist can get on a plane and deliver himself to others. A month later…………..
    It doesn’t really take many casualties for panic to shut down the country. If 9/11 can do what it has, imagine 10 of them scattered around.
    Guess the only good part is DC would be number 1on the hit parade and we might get some relief from them.

    1. Hognose Post author

      That scenario was an episode of the unlamented (except inasmuch as the waste of talent, expended on a bad and boring show) TV show The Unit. It was one of, I believe, two episodes that had its fictional version of an Army Special Mission Unit fighting people the real-life counterpart actually might fight. (The rest of the episodes’ villains were Central Casting, or maybe Central Script Control, stock bogeymen: neo-nazi rednecks, corporate CEOs, and of course the assassins of the CIA. They couldn’t have been any phonier if they were the Joker and the Riddler).

      Now that I think about it, the concept of Central Script Control explains a lot of Hollyweird deviance and deviations in military-themed entertainment.

      1. Aesop

        It’s actually a very tiny world, utterly bereft of any actual military expertise or experience.
        (It certainly hasn’t helped that there isn’t a Hillsdale College School Of Film, nor any equivalent anywhere in the country. Thus, Film school=J-school, for all intents.)
        When Daly Dye and the Gunny finally kick off, GOK what they’ll do for a dose of reality.

        Absent a cultural change at the head offices, I am not sanguine about the next round of tabloid screenplays that will be inflicted on the populace. The only encouraging sign is that so far this year, people have stayed away in droves, but like Ebola, mere catastrophe isn’t sufficient to induce TPTB to make correct appraisals of their predicament.

        1. Kirk

          Meh. Hollywood is dead, and just hasn’t realized it, yet.

          Just like publishing, the dinosaurs are being supplanted by the little fast guys in the undergrowth, the independents. And, they’re being disintermediated by the storytellers, themselves. Where you once needed to own the printing and distribution to get a book out, these days you can self-publish on Amazon and be putting money in the bank, with complete visibility of the process. You’ll never see it happen, because the process is slow, but one day you’re going to wake up and realize that Amazon and Netflix just did the same damn thing to Hollywood. The cost of equipment has come down, and the odds are that instead of the effects houses going bankrupt trying to keep the studios happy, they’re going to go into business prettying up the little guy’s stuff for a cut of the action.

          By 2050-2060, we’re going to be writing academic papers on the self-destruction of the “Hollywood Way”. What’s really great about it? The whole thing is self-inflicted…

          1. Aesop

            I’d would wish it were so, but there’s no way to do that at present.

            You can make a decent-quality movie for maybe $100K right now, but no one will ever pay you to see it, so unless you’re Citizen Kane doing it for charity and spite, Not. Going. To. Happen.

            Hollywood is like the publishing and music industries, but it isn’t exactly like them. (The former are suffering more from lack of musical talent, and the general decline in literacy, than from any breakdown in their business model. Note that movable type didn’t put Shakespeare out of business, or out of vogue. Ever.)

            You figure out how to get return on investment from new media distribution, and you’re the next Irving Thalberg. So far, nobody’s that guy, including thousands of guys inside “the biz”, and not for lack of trying. Personally, I doubt anyone will figure it out for a long, long, long time to come. People still go to plays just like they did in the Athens of Socrates, and they still like going to see a movie in the dark with a roomful of strangers, an experience which even 7.1 surround sound and an 80″ monitor cannot replace. (Both of which require some pretty dedicated artisanal craftsmanship that isn’t happening in anybody’s garage so far.)

            It’s like predicting the end of the oil industry: call me when they make a solar-powered 747.

            I wish it were else; I’ve got screenplays and projects to keep me busy until I die were it otherwise, and having seen the competition, I’m sure I could make better movies than most of the ones I’ve worked on. But like politics, the mother’s milk of making movies is quite simply money.

          2. Kirk

            Note that I’m saying the process has started, not that it’s in full force.

            Hollywood has been screwing everyone but themselves for so long that they’ve forgotten what honest bookkeeping looks like. Right now, some of their newest and biggest victims are the special effects houses, and what Hollywood is forgetting is that those guys are a hell of a lot smarter and a lot more technically savvy than the studio heads ever will be. I predict that in about ten-twenty years, you’re going to see those effects houses doing work with Joe Schmoe, hometown impressario, and he’ll pass on his footage, which they’ll then clean up and add effects to.

            Getting the money is easy. Amazon and Netflix are becoming big enough outlets that when the little guys are finally a threat to the Hollywood marketing machine, they’re going to be past the point of blackmail for the studios and networks. You’re already starting to see the outlines of what I’m talking about–Amazon and Netflix creating their own programming. It’s only a hop, skip, and a jump to the next level, where people pledge money for Kickstarter-like funding to get pilots made, and then have someone else pick them up for production, if they’re successful enough. The current setup only has about another generation or two left on it, and then it’s going to be supplanted with growing speed. The rank dishonesty and outright theft that the industry is currently the industry standard is going to be what kills it, because who the hell needs to deal with the idiots at Fox, if Amazon is going to distribute and transparently pay you your fair share?

            One thing that’s going to happen here is that the accounting is going to be a hell of a lot more transparent than it has been, and that alone may kill the Hollywood model, where movies and TV shows that make billions somehow never show a profit, on paper.

        2. Y.

          and they still like going to see a movie in the dark with a roomful of strangers, an experience which even 7.1 surround sound and an 80″ monitor cannot replace.

          Who buys an 80″ monitor?

          There are 4K projectors out there, and the great advantage to having your own sound system at home is that you don’t have to pack earplugs.

          Many people these days have some sort of hearing loss, mainly due to listening to overly loud music. Cinemas are set up so these people are fine there. People with good hearing need earplugs.

          Besides, cinemas mainly run Hollywood prole crap.

          1. Hognose Post author

            Who buys an 80″ monitor?

            Damned if I know, but somebody does. Samsung alone offers at least 10 different models of over-70″ screen, priced from $8k to $120K (this search is from high price to low and may only work from US locations):
            http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_st_price-desc-rank?keywords=tv&qid=1414498887&rh=n%3A172282%2Cn%3A1266092011%2Cn%3A172659%2Cn%3A6459737011%2Ck%3Atv%2Cp_n_size_browse-bin%3A3578043011&sort=price-desc-rank

            There wouldn’t be all these different models if people weren’t in the market, although I can’t imagine the spendthrift who’d buy a $120k TV. I did have a $3500 TV, which lasted us 21 years (36″ Trinitron) and then became a 250-lb disposal problem. Its replacement was $348! The Trinitron had great onboard sound, though. Newer TVs need a sound bar.

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