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Opinion Pieces Address Issues Around Ebola Vaccine Development

Opinion pieces discuss challenges and issues around developing an Ebola vaccine.

The Atlantic: An Ebola Vaccine Is Not the Answer
Olga Khazan, staff writer for the Atlantic

“… [E]ven if a vaccine [for Ebola] works, it would be a stretch to say we could confidently use it to prevent another Ebola outbreak, like we did with smallpox or (largely) with polio … [The development of an Ebola vaccine] could prove essential in the event of a bioterrorism attack … or if the vaccine was also effective as a treatment. But it might not be our best hope for stopping this and future outbreaks. Instead, we want a treatment…” (8/5).

Scientific American: Ebola and Priorities in Drug Development
Judy Stone, infectious disease specialist

“News is rapidly changing regarding Ebola. Even as I’ve been writing this post, we’ve gone from ‘There is no treatment except supportive care’ to NIH’s Dr. [Anthony] Fauci saying a potential vaccine ‘could be given to health workers in affected African countries sometime in 2015.’ This optimistic projection was a surprise to me, as normally it takes years to develop and bring a drug or vaccine through all phases of clinical treatment. … While identifying effective treatment for Ebola is important, we should not forget the many multi-drug resistant infections that do not have treatments as well, and the frighteningly high and increasing toll MDR infections have both in the U.S. and globally. The lack of attention focused on antibiotic development is very disturbing…” (8/5).

Wall Street Journal: Experimental Medicine in a Time of Ebola
Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, David Heymann, head and senior fellow of the Chatham House Centre on Global Health Security, and Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

“…Experimental treatments aren’t a substitute for standard infection-control measures. Past Ebola outbreaks have demonstrated which containment approaches are effective: hospital-infection control, self-protection of health workers, community education about how to avoid infection, and placing those exposed under fever surveillance and isolation for a full 21 days. These measures, however, have failed to stop the West African outbreak, because of profound distrust in authorities and health services, strong traditional beliefs concerning disease causation and funeral practices, and, until recently, a lack of leadership. Populations have grown, people travel more, and there are more people living in major cities — all of which complicate the containment of Ebola and other highly infective diseases and multiply the risks of catastrophic outcomes. These dire circumstances call for a more robust international response” (8/5).

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