Recent news of the positive effects of Ebola vaccine tests in monkeys is encouraging, but it’s not a guaranteed breakthrough. There’s still much to be done, and the risk of an outbreak has been cause for anxiety among U.S. residents.
Beyond obvious health reasons, developing a successful vaccine is crucial for the financial and educational stability of the country.
The State of Ebola Vaccinations
A study published in August revealed an experimental Ebola vaccine has proven effective in lab monkeys for at least five weeks. With an additional booster, the vaccine can offer protection for up to 10 months.
These findings, while still preliminary, give the general public insight into which Ebola vaccines, if any, are likely to be effective for protecting humans from one of the worst viral outbreaks in recent history. In this particular study, the vaccine enhanced immunity in four out of four monkeys.
The vaccine works by infecting cells and “causing them to take up the gene and produce Ebola proteins.” This in turn serves as a primer for the immune system and enhances the likelihood of its successfully fighting off the Ebola virus when a true infection takes place.
According to reports, there are an estimated 4,000 individual cases of Ebola since the outbreak first began in March. Nearly 2,000 of those cases have been reported in the past month.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is attempting to expedite the experimental drug process to improve the chances of stopping further dispersion of the disease. If nothing is done, WHO projects 20,000 cases by October.
The World’s Reaction
According to officials connected with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. will play a direct role in building 10 Ebola centers with about 100 beds each. In addition, the European Union is pledging more than $180 million to assist the countries already affected — including Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
The global response to the Ebola outbreak signals fear of something greater than the admittedly conservative estimate of 20,000 cases by October. Many fear that 20,000 could quickly lead to 100,000 or more … which will only increase exponentially.
The Importance of the Vaccine
To measure the true value of an effective Ebola vaccine would be nearly impossible. One thing is certain, though.
Without a vaccine, there will be massive ripple effects throughout the world. Economically speaking, the regions directly affected may find themselves in holes that are too deep to climb out of.
In the U.S., some have warned that an outbreak could force another financial meltdown. According to the WHO, Centers for Disease Control, and Cleveland Clinic, a person’s chance of dying after being infected with Ebola is between 60 percent and 90 percent.
While the virus may seem safely distant from U.S. soil at this point, it only takes one slip-up to put the entire nation in danger.
If the virus were to find its way to America, it would have a profound effect on more than 35 million Americans already in talks with collection agencies over unpaid medical bills, about 15 million Americans who have exhausted their savings on medical expenses, and at least 9 million Americans who aren’t able to pay for basics like food and rent because of medical bills.
Combined, these factors could lead to a financial meltdown of substantial magnitude.
Is Success Around the Corner?
While no one can be certain of its efficacy yet, the new experimental Ebola vaccine’s success in monkeys is encouraging. The world understands the importance of developing a vaccine, and nations are pitching in to make sure this dangerous disease is eradicated before it causes considerably more human deaths.