With over 4,000 dead from the disease, Ebola is a major crisis… for the people in West Africa. For the rest of the world? Not so much.
Listen to Dr. Thomas Geisbert. He’s a virologist at the University of Texas, Galveston, who has spent decades studying Ebola and other similar hemorrhagic fevers. In an interview conducted by National Public Radio, he explains that they now have a vaccine that has been shown to be effective for non-human animals in labs. He explains that since ebola is not transmitted through the air (so far), it’s not that difficult to prevent a general epidemic. (Translation: In wealthy countries, like the US, it can be contained.)
Then he says: “I think one of the main obstacles is realy a financial obstacle. Most of the companies that would develop these vaccines are small biotech companies, and there’s a very small global market for an Ebola vaccine. It’s not like something like malaria that’s prevalent. So the companies really — it comes down to money.”
Translation: “The big pharmaceuticals don’t see a major profit in an Ebola vaccine because those who need it the most can’t afford it, and Ebola in general doesn’t threaten to disrupt the Western nations.”
Then we have the case of Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan, who came down with Ebola shortly after he had come to the United States. He came down with all the classic symptoms – high fever, chills, pain, etc. He first went into the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas Texas. All the hospitals in that area had been warned about Ebola and given instructions on how to handle suspected cases. When Duncan first went into Presbyterian, what do you think was one of the first questions asked of him?
If you’re living in the US, you know what it was: Do you have health insurance?
Said one of those who accompanied him: “She (Duncan’s fiancee) told them he did not (have health insurance) because he had just come from Liberia.”
So what do you think the hospital did?
Again, if you’re living in the US you know the answer. Despite his 103 degree fever (as noted in the hospital records), they sent him home.
He later returned to the hospital when his symptoms were too serious to ignore, but it was too late then for him. The epitaph on his grave should read: “Here lies Thomas Eric Duncan, another victim of capitalism.”