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The Guardian’s Ebola Headline – A Study in Unwarranted Bashing of the US August 7, 2014

Posted by geoff in News.

Ebola patients in west Africa to be denied experimental drugs used in US” shrieks the headline at The Guardian, making the US sound like a bunch of aholes. But the headline doesn’t reflect the content of the article. After all, you can’t deny somebody something that doesn’t exist:

A spokesman for the US Centres for Disease Control said “there are virtually no doses available” and they would take several months to manufacture.

Aaaand then there are the ethical issues:

Even if supplies do become available, medical ethicists are divided over whether they should be used in the current Ebola outbreak in west Africa. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called a meeting of experts next week to help it guide doctors and drug companies who may consider shipping experimental drugs to the four countries hit by the disease.

So the headline should have read “US Manufacturing Experimental Ebola Drugs as Rapidly While Accelerating Trials and While Waiting for Ethicists to Decide if This is Really the Right Thing to Do.”

But since it’s an obviously uncontroversial and correct course of action, that probably wouldn’t bring many readers.

BTW, I’m ignoring the stupid article asking “Why Were Westerners Given Experimental Drugs and Not Africans?” and Ann Coulter’s equally stupid “US Doctor Was a Fool for Going to Africa to Treat Ebola Victims.” They’re self-evidently idiotic from the start.


1. Cathy - August 7, 2014

As with most disputes with this kind of crowd — whatever way we slice it WE are gonna be the bad guys and they are gonna be the poor victims.

2. Cathy - August 7, 2014

I’ve heard other logical rationale (Michael Savage) for why experimental drugs were first tested on white folk and not first tested on Africans.

3. lauraw - August 7, 2014

Scott brought this up to me the other day, and the furor surrounding it, and I could name one big reason why it would be considered ethically dicey.

People in the third world are, from a sociological-medical perspective, considered to be ‘vulnerable’ populations; they are unable to really give informed consent for experimental treatment. This is due to their third world status. They lack any kind of background in Western medicine and supposedly won’t understand the nature of risk involved in taking part in clinical trials.

Not a problem for health care workers that come from and were educated in Western countries.

Yes, it is paternalistic and kind of dopey in this particular case. Almost everyone is capable of giving informed consent in a ‘I’m gonna die anyway’ situation.

4. skinbad - August 7, 2014

At what stage is the disease in each particular person?
What resources do you expend to what levels on that continuum?
Is it more ethical to try to make those with advanced cases comfortable but use a finite and extremely expensive resource for prevention?
Educating, screening, quarantining, relocating? Where do those fit in?

5. geoff - August 8, 2014

Pretty clear that your early trials (i.e., the first several hundred treatments or so) should be conducted in controlled settings with 1st class medical care and the creators of the drugs in close attendance. I mean duh.

If you have the doses remaining that will allow humanitarian administration to people who would otherwise die, then by all means provide them. But since that’s already the plan, I don’t see what the controversy is.

6. Tushar - August 9, 2014

see, America withheld the ebola treatments from those poor Africans.

The French, Germans, Scandinavians, Russians, Japanese, Chinese and Koreans, on the other hand, have generously given all their stockpiles of Ebola medicine to Africans.

Wait a minute, they fucking don’t have anything to give away. All those enlightened europeans with their advanced socialized healthcare systems, and they got jack squat.

All they can do is throw mud at US.

7. Sobek - August 9, 2014

That was the first Ann Coulter column I’ve read in years, because I saw the headline and thought “she can’t possibly mean that.” After I read the article I thought, “apparently Ann has had a bad couple of years since last I heard from her.”

8. Sobek - August 9, 2014

Also, sending a fist bump over to Tushar.

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