Are American lives worth more than the lives of Africans? With recent circumstances surrounding the Ebola outbreak, one really has to wonder where people stand on that question. The Ebola virus of West Africa has left more than 900 people dead at this point. But it sparked only minor media interest. It took two Americans becoming infected for the world to finally pay attention.
The outbreak has thus far been concentrated in Liberia (where a 90-day state of emergency was declared just days ago), Sierra Leone and Guinea. Now, however, the disease has crossed borders and found its way into Nigeria — a shaking concept, considering Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. Saudi Arabia recently reported its own cases, while, of course, the United States is also housing two infected individuals.
You’d think — with the outbreak having started multiple weeks ago — that more would be done by now. Ebola is a serious disease. With its obvious contagiousness and horrible symptoms (including organ failure, internal and external bleeding and often death), it’s not something to sweep under the rug.
But nothing much was done about it in its early weeks. And why? Were the dying African villagers not a big enough concern to start planning a course of action?
Only now, only after Americans have been impacted, are people scrambling to pull together a cure.
These two infected Americans — Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly — have been flown home and are currently hospitalized at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. They’re both being treated with “secret serum,” officially called ZMapp, a drug that may or may not help fight the Ebola virus in humans.
The “secret serum,” true to its nickname, has publicly unknown contents and a questionable effectiveness in treating Ebola in people. It has not yet been tested on humans and exists only in very small quantities. Enough for only two people, apparently.
Before Brantly and Writebol were in need of medical attention, it was not considered safe to use “secret serum,” which is still considered an experimental drug, on humans. Now, just mere weeks later, it’s okay and worth the risk.
So now people are asking: is it ethical to use the (supposed) only two vials of this drug on two Americans? Will it work? How long will it take to make enough of this stuff to help more people? And does the Food and Drug Administration have to give the go-ahead before anything more is done?
There are so many unanswered questions and, with the disease spreading rapidly with no known cure, there’s growing of panic surrounding the situation.
Meanwhile, the two Americans are being treated with the utmost care, and they will show the world what “secret serum” is capable of. Whether it works or not, officials claim it will take at least multiple months to produce enough of the drug to help what could be more than 1000 infected individuals.
For now, the infected masses will just have to stick it out, hope their organs don’t fail and wonder, “Why don’t we get the same privileges as the Americans?”
Tomorrow I will follow-up with a post about the missing Ebola patients in Liberia, stay tuned!