West Africa has been the victim of several waves of Ebola over the years; but up to this day, it is still suffering from the same outbreak management problems it had encountered the first time the disease had been identified. This is why in the hopes of achieving their end goals this time around, the United Nations health agency is currently holding clinical trials of Ebola vaccines in order to be tested and used next year to counter the effects of the deadly virus.
It has been reported that the treatment made by Mapp Biopharmaceutical has lead to extremely favourable results on monkeys. According to Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, the World Health Organization Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation, the bright side of this potential cure for Ebola is that there is a high possibility that it will work since two American aid workers have already shown responsiveness to the cure which is most commonly referred to as the ‘experimental treatment’. On the other hand, the development of the Ebola serum is also deemed by several health institutions as an ongoing project which seems quite difficult to scale-up. Director Adrian Hill of Jennifer Institute said “The immune responses are there, the tough call is whether they’re enough to protect humans against Ebola, and I guess we’ll find that out in the phase 3 trial.” (Callaway, 2014).
Thanks to GlaxoSmithKline manufacturer, vaccines for Ebola are currently being enhanced to aid thousands of people who show symptoms of the virus. Suffice it to say, it is very impressive how medical practitioners have been able to address the growing Ebola virus in West Africa by developing a vaccine that can potentially cure those who are already infected with the virus. Trials are being held this December and results are expected to come out by February.
On the other side of this whole seemingly purely beneficial process, there are also some ethical issues that various health agencies and institutions ought to confront. Many people question why the untested medication was first given out to Westerners instead of the people in West Africa who are suffering severely from the outbreak for months. As a matter of fact, the Nigerian government even asked the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to grant them access to the so-called Ebola serum. Unfortunately, CDC revealed that there are no doses left; hence, all nations suffering from Ebola in Africa would have to wait until next year for the supplies of the untested drug.
From this rises yet another issue. Many claim that this ‘plan’ proves how African people are being treated as guinea pigs. The main dilemma many critiques are highlighting as of the moment is the fact that as the demand for a cure grows higher, untested drugs and vaccines ‘are looking better and better’ for health practitioners to use in West Africa next year despite that these so-called treatments are still unregistered (Skwarecki, 2014).
Because of these issues, the World Health Organization has summoned an expert panel of medical ethicists to discuss and examine the whole process of experimental treatment so as to weigh the pros and cons of using it in West Africa by 2015.
BBC News. (2014). Ebola: The Race for Drugs and Vaccines. Retrieved from
Callaway, E. (2014). US Ebola vaccine trial reports positive results. Retrieved from http://www.nature.com/n
Skwarecki, B. (2014). Ethical dilemmas of giving Ebola drugs to the people who need them the most. Retrieved from