So you telling me that the U.S has completely cured the American doctor with Ebola in 26 days and he’s being released today. While Africa has been dealing with it since the 70’s and they are still looking for a cure.
Are we surprised?
I mean…they still don’t know if the experimental sera are what helped the doctor and missionary. Ebola has a case fatality rate from 60-90%, so it’s not like everyone dies (and in this case it’s currently lower than the average fatality rate for this strain of ebola). They don’t know why some people survive and others don’t. Supportive care - which just isn’t available to most of those suffering from ebola in African countries - may have just as easily been responsible for their recovery.
The WHO has approved use of the experimental sera now, but there are like, valid reasons for not using people from African countries as guinea pigs. It could be considered unethical.
JB: You’ve also mentioned a concern that there may be challenges with deciding who gets treatment. Can you explain that?
PR: Because the outbreak is mostly occurring in Africa, there’s a rationing problem. If you are going to use this drug, who should get it? There’s quite a bit of controversy about the fact that three people who have gotten [ZMapp] are all Caucasian, all from western countries. None of the people most affected by the outbreak have received this drug. So are all these people equally deserving of this particular drug since we don’t know anything about who it might work better with?
There is a long and sordid history of western pharmaceutical companies doing clinical trials in Africa and subjecting Africans who are poor or under-educated to experimental drugs that would never be used there be used on westerners. Luckily there are conventions that have eliminated that activity. On the other hand, people are concerned that the three people treated so far are from wealthy western countries and not those that are most affected. Either way, this brings up memories about the bad old days. [x]
By all means, pharmaceutical companies should be blamed for deprioritizing work on ebola vaccines and treatments but the experimental drug (ZMapp) is by no means a cure and has not been tested in humans…so it’s misleading to act like the US is just withholding some tried and true secret serum.