No Profit in Ebola So Thousands Die

October 27, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

A recent New York Times article is titled “Ebola Vaccine, Ready for Test, Sat on the Shelf” (October 23, 2014). It reports, “Almost a decade ago, scientists from Canada and the United States reported that they had created a vaccine that was 100 percent effective in protecting monkeys against the Ebola virus. The results were published in a respected journal, and health officials called them exciting. The researchers said tests in people might start within two years, and a product could potentially be ready for licensing by 2010 or 2011. It never happened. The vaccine sat on a shelf. Only now is it undergoing the most basic safety tests in humans—with nearly 5,000 people dead from Ebola and an epidemic raging out of control in West Africa.”


The Times goes on to report, "[T]the absence of follow-up on such a promising candidate reflects a broader failure to produce medicines and vaccines for diseases that afflict poor countries.” (My emphasis)

Only now—when Ebola is threatening to spread within the U.S. and other countries that have enslaved and plundered African people for centuries—are investments flowing into Ebola vaccines and drugs to treat Ebola.

This is “the market” at work. Next time someone starts talking about how great it is that “the market” drives things, tell them that market is responsible for unnecessary death, disease, and suffering all over the world, including the lack of vaccine and treatment for the horrors of Ebola—just for starters.

Ebola is a nightmare. The symptoms are horrific. And in conditions in Africa, where the legacy and present day reality of colonialism and imperialism has ravaged the continent, the disease spread quickly, wiping out whole villages. People have been dying from Ebola in Africa since the 1970s.

Revolution—here, or anywhere else—involves tortuous sacrifice and struggle. But think about what it would make possible: a world where the vast resources of this planet and the people on it are NOT twisted, and are only unleashed when and to the extent they serve the competitive mad scramble for profit. And where those resources can be directed to where there is the most need, from the standpoint of the interests of humanity.


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