Ebola isn’t very contagious and is relatively easy to treat. Antiviral drugs and vaccines banned by Obama could have eradicated Ebola, saved thousands of lives, and prevented the disease from ever reaching America.
In order to wipe out Ebola, a combination of treatment options would have to be used. Fortunately we can learn from smallpox, a much more contagious disease than Ebola, which was eradicated in two decades. When the WHO declared war on smallpox in 1959, 2 million people were dieing from it each year. By 1979, smallpox was eradicated thanks to an integrated approach of disease surveillance, quarantining, and vaccinations.
Due to its smaller scale and lesser contagiousness, Ebola could be wiped out much more quickly than smallpox. More importantly, modern medicine has advanced much since the 1970s, allowing us to deliver both antiviral drugs and vaccinations in a more affordable, less invasive fashion.
There are a few pharmaceutical companies that have the capability of mass-producing antiviral drugs and vaccines effective in combating Ebola. These companies are not only willing to produce these treatment options – they, along with Ebola experts and doctors in Liberia, are begging the FDA to let them do it. Despite mounting death tolls from Ebola, the FDA has either prevented or severely restricted production, research, and use of these compounds. Instead of cutting the red tape in order to save thousands of lives, Obama sided with the bureaucrats at the FDA.
The stated reason given by the FDA and Obama is a lack of clinical testing done on these anti-Ebola drugs. There are a few problems with the FDA requirements for clinical testing.
The first is that it requires recruiting sick volunteers which, given the extremely volatile nature of Ebola, is nearly impossible to accomplish. Ebola naturally occurs in animals, not humans, so outbreaks are few and far between – making it difficult and time-consuming to effectively recruit sick volunteers.
Secondly, even without the complications already present with Ebola, clinical trials require hundreds of volunteers, researchers, and health care workers in a clinical setting – something which might be difficult to organize in third world countries like Liberia.
Lastly, these clinical trials are ridiculously expensive, which drives out private investment, leaving government the only ones able to fund this research. Inevitably, the research becomes politicized.
In response to the exponential growth of Ebola, the FDA has allowed very limited access to two anti-viral Ebola drugs outside of a clinical study setting: ZMapp and TKM-Ebola. But the regulatory process requires patients outside of the US gain eligibility for these drugs on a case-by-case basis, making it impossible to run the type of large-scale campaign necessary to reverse large Ebola outbreaks.
Moreover, treatment alone will not significantly slow the exponential growth of the Ebola outbreak – what’s needed is a preventative strategy utilizing vaccines, like the strategy used by the WHO in its fight against smallpox. Unfortunately, vaccines aren’t allowed the same regulatory loopholes as antiviral drugs – so the two anti-Ebola vaccines currently in clinical trials will not become available to those who need them most until after the outbreak ends.
Which leaves us at an impasse. We know Obama will always side with Big Pharma and the entrenched “public health” bureaucracy over the public – so there’s no point in even trying to pressure him into doing the right thing.
The problem in all of this, of course, goes beyond Obama. Republicans have failed to offer serious criticism of the President’s approach to Ebola – instead, they’ve been busy getting pummeled by Democrats over non-existing spending cuts. The Republicans need a leader on this issue. Someone who will go beyond simplistic cries for a travel ban.
We need a leader on issues of health care freedom and limited government – someone who can go toe-to-toe with the Democrats when they accuse us of cutting spending and not be afraid to point out that it was government intervention that restricted the use of Ebola vaccines and antiviral drugs, which allowed the outbreak to blow out of control. We need a leader to emerge who will not be afraid to take on the entrenched public health bureaucracy which spends our tax dollars ridiculously. We need a leader who will go beyond just criticizing his political opposition and explain a compelling vision for the future.
Who will it be? [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ]? [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ]? Or will another bright, young, and creative thinker emerge in the Republican Party?