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Race, Ethnicity, Research, and the Ebola Virus: An Analysis

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Erica Janz

on 8 May 2015

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Transcript of Race, Ethnicity, Research, and the Ebola Virus: An Analysis

Social Injustices
Large gaps between rich and poor within African countries
Poor living conditions*
Weak health care system*
Rich receive best care; poor receive little to none care
Vaccine Outlook
Few candidate vaccines that are going through testing

Since discovery
, cumulative total of approximately
suspected and confirmed clinical cases and
confirmed deaths
Highly virulent (
50% to 90%
) virus
Belongs to the viral family
Reservoir = unknown, but potentially fruit bats
Enters through mucous membranes, breaks in the skin, or parenterally via blood and body fluids from other infected people
5 different strains:
Côte d’Ivoire
Race, Ethnicity, Research, and Ebola: An Analysis of Why There is Still No Vaccine
History of Ebola Outbreaks
Clinical Signs
Appear 2-21 days
Average time =
8-10 days
Early signs (non-specific):
So why is there no vaccine or therapeutic drug against this highly lethal disease?
Lengthy Process and its consequences
The Good, the Bad,
& the Unjust
Later signs (approximately 5 days after onset):
Severe watery diarrhea (+/- blood)
Vomiting (+/- blood)
Abdominal Pain
Late signs:
Multi-organ failure
Current Ebola Outbreak
As of April 30th, there were
26, 333
reported cases and
Social Injustices
Now imagine these countries dealing with a virus that can spread like wild fire
The result is the 2014 Ebola outbreak
However, prior to 2014...
Outbreaks only occurred in remote, small villages in Africa
Never spread to large cities or to another continent
The scientific community and world has short-attention span with their concern
Until current outbreak, they were actively ignoring the Ebola-related deaths
Base their decisions on which drugs will be the most profitable
Hypertension, cancer, and AIDS research =
research and its associated vaccine or drug profitable
Pharmaceutical companies hold power
Decide which research will receive grant money
Decides which drugs will be made
Only affects a
small population
- mainly
Vaccine only
used once
Average time from research to distribution =
10-15 years
Therefore, even if a vaccine or drug that was found to be successful, it would not even be FDA approved for another 10 years minimum
However, some drugs can be fast tracked (10 months)
Is it safe to fast track a drug?
Not enough time to test for toxicity or efficacy
Hoping for the best despite deathly side effects
Many experimental drugs are being used in current Ebola outbreak
Understandable, but...
Again, hoping for the best despite deathly side effects
Preferentially being given out*
Select few white Americans
NOT the many Africans suffering
Only the most successful so far are being fast-tracked by FDA
Hopefully approved by the end of 2015

Two most successful candidate vaccines =
Killed version of a chimpanzee adenovirus, which contains the gene for EVD surface protein
Attenuated form of an animal virus (
irus), which carries a non-infectious segment of the Ebola virus genome
Vaccine Outlook
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10. Groseth, A., H. Feldmann, and J. E. Strong. "The Ecology of Ebola Virus." Trends Microbiol 15.9 (2007): 408-16. Print.
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Other candidate vaccines that are going through Phase I and II clinical trials*
Recombinant influenza candidate Ebola vaccine
Oral adenovirus platform
Alternative vesicular stomatitis virus candidate
Alternative recombinant protein
DNA vaccine
Recombinant rabies vaccine
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