Letters to the Editor

John A. Paar: Vaccines, humility needed to combat Ebola

Just a couple of observations from the news concerning the Ebola virus crisis in Africa and the hysterical reaction in the United States.

Investigators at the National Institutes of Health developed a vaccine highly effective in monkeys against Ebola 15 years ago. A comment from a recently retired Merck vaccine executive was that there was no market for this. What does this say about the ethics of Big Pharma and of all of us when aggressive vaccine development against diseases found mostly in poor countries is not pursued for economic reasons?

I note the high prevalence in this election season of comments from politicians who know nothing about public health and epidemiology and even less about infectious diseases, contradicting the opinions of real experts in those fields. Wisdom would dictate keeping one’s mind open and one’s mouth shut in an attitude of humility.

John A. Paar