Greed, Ebola, and “Lives Worth Saving”

First, if you are not in Sierra Leone or Liberia and/or you are not a health worker treating Ebola cases then your chances of catching the Ebola virus are exceedingly slim. So please stop panicking. The hysteria over Ebola isn’t helping. Having been in high school during the 1980’s, it reminds me a lot of the paranoia AIDS engendered.  People were freaking out and terrified they were going to catch AIDS from shaking hands or something equally innocuous.

A good example of overreaching panic response is the quarantining of people who have tested negative for Ebola.  That means they DO NOT have the Ebola virus and thus are NOT capable of spreading the Ebola virus. Just look at what has happened to NJ nurse Kaci Hickox:

“Kaci Hickox, a nurse whose return to the U.S. after treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone was sidetracked when she was placed in a mandatory 21-day quarantine Friday, is criticizing the way New Jersey officials have handled her case. Hickox says she doesn’t have a fever; a preliminary blood test came back negative for Ebola. She reportedly hired a civil rights attorney Sunday to work for her release. The medical relief group she works for says there’s no word on when she could be released. And in the volunteer community, many are concerned that the quarantine policy could make medical staff think twice about volunteering to help combat the deadly outbreak overseas. “Hospital personnel are keeping her in isolation and have not informed her of any next steps,” Doctors Without Borders says, noting that the nurse hasn’t been told whether her blood will undergo more tests to confirm her Ebola status with certainty.”

She is being effectively held prisoner for the “crime” of treating Ebola patients. How dare she! Who does she think she is? Some kind of nurse who is dedicated to saving lives or something??

Speaking of “saving lives”, it turns out that they have had an excellent potential Ebola vaccine for nearly ten years:

“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.”

Why didn’t this vaccine get tested on humans and put on the market? Two reasons; money and racism.

As Thomas W. Geisbert, an Ebola expert at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and one of the developers of the vaccine said, ““There’s never been a big market for Ebola vaccines … So big pharma, who are they going to sell it to?” See? Why save lives if you can’t get paid?? Wealthy, insured people in Industrialized nations weren’t dying of Ebola. Poor black people in Africa were dying of Ebola. How would poor black people in Africa reimburse Big Pharma for it’s efforts? Moreover, who cares about poor black Africans? They are black, for God’s sake. Its isn’t as though black lives are worth saving, right? Maybe I’m wrong, but taking into account the fact that “Rwandan children at one New Jersey school being pressured to stay home and a high school soccer player of Guinean origin facing “Ebola” chants during a match,” it certainly seems as though racism/xenophobia are a driving force in the Ebola panic.

Ironic isn’t it? If African lives had been ‘valuable’ enough to fund an Ebola vaccine, American lives wouldn’t be in danger now. Greed and racism are good for almost no one, in fact.

Who knew?

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