Pharmaceutical companies are unwilling to invest in vaccines and research to cure the deadly Ebola disease because it is only killing Africans, a leading UK doctor has claimed.
The President of the UK Faculty of Public Health, Prof. John Ashton, has claimed no cure for the disease has been discovered because it so far has only affected powerless minorities.
He likened the response to that of Aids, for which treatments were developed only when it started affecting Western countries.
The current Ebola outbreak – which has no vaccine, no cure and kills up to 90 per cent of victims – is currently ravaging the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Liberia.
There have been 729 deaths from 1,329 confirmed cases of Ebola in this year’s epidemic – making it the largest Ebola outbreak in history.
Writingin the Independent on Sunday , Prof. Ashton said: ‘We must respond to this emergency as if it was in Kensington, Chelsea, and Westminster.
‘We must also tackle the scandal of the unwillingness of the pharmaceutical industry to invest in research to produce treatments and vaccines, something they refuse to do because the numbers involved are, in their terms, so small and don’t justify the investment.
‘This is the moral bankruptcy of capitalism acting in the absence of an ethical and social framework.’
WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan, has also warned the virus is currently moving faster than efforts to control it.
She said, ‘This outbreak is moving faster than our efforts to control it. If the situation continues to deteriorate, the consequences can be catastrophic in terms of lost lives, severe socioeconomic disruption and a high risk of spread to other countries.’
Speaking at a meeting in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, she told the presidents of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast that the virus could be stopped.
But she said that cultural practices such as traditional burials were a significant cause of its spread.
Meanwhile, Emirates, the Mideast’s largest airline, said today it had halted flights to Guinea because of concerns about the spread of the Ebola virus.