From a post in the Independent:
Britain's leading public health doctor today blames the failure to find a vaccine against the Ebola virus on the "moral bankruptcy" of the pharmaceutical industry to invest in a disease because it has so far only affected people in Africa – despite hundreds of deaths.
Professor John Ashton, the president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, says the West needs to treat the deadly virus as if it were taking hold in the wealthiest parts of London rather than just Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. Writing in The Independent on Sunday, Professor Ashton compares the international response to Ebola to that of Aids, which was killing people in Africa for years before treatments were developed once it had spread to the US and UK in the 1980s.
Yes, there is racism in this situation. But before the racism, there is neoliberalism. Racism is a proximate cause; neoliberalism is the ultimate cause. To begin with, and this is something the brilliant biologist Mae-Wan Ho points out, there has been a tendency in the West to abandon the search for cures and instead find and promote solutions that lead to the lifelong management of illnesses. It's easy to see why capital would prefer management over cures.
Secondly, and this is something that's central to the argument presented in Mariana Mazzucato's important book Entrepreneurial State: Pharmaceutical corporations don't make new drugs anymore. More than 70 percent of the new drugs that enter the market in our times were developed by institutions supported by the state. Drug corporations are only repackaging old drugs or buying back shares. There is no real R&D in the private sectors of the West.
With this in mind, let's turn to the current Ebola countries in West Africa—Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. What is it they all lack? A strong state. Indeed, you can't even have a capitalist market without a strong state, let alone research institutions that can develop cures and drugs that have little or no immediate value for the market.
Drugs firms not trying to find Ebola vaccine ‘because virus is only killing Africans’
— The Independent (@Independent) August 3, 2014
But what about these Ebola missionaries who are being flown back from the darkest Africa in special medical planes?
Atlanta (CNN) — Nancy Writebol's family says it was making funeral plans for her last week as she lay stricken with Ebola in Liberia amid the disease's deadliest recorded outbreak.
After an experimental serum and a plane flight, she's now the second human Ebola patient on U.S. soil, and her relatives think she has a fighting chance.
A medical plane on Tuesday flew Writebol from Liberia to Atlanta, where she was rushed to the same hospital where an American missionary colleague arrived days earlier. Like her, he was sickened by the deadly hemorrhagic disease while on a team caring for Ebola patients in Monrovia.
White Christians? Let's do a little speculating. As a social group, aren't white Christians the base of the GOP? And doesn't the GOP spend a great deal of energy cutting government, slashing funding for science research? The private sector is not developing new drugs. The government is doing that. And the government is the enemy of the party that's supported by conservative white Christians. It really is astonishing to hear these white Christians going on about "sending their prayers." It's the government that's saving the lives of those missionaries, not your fucking prayers or market fundamentalism.