As the Ebola death toll rises and as images of bodies being abandoned in the streets of Liberiaare broadcast around the globe, there has been a growing outcry for the scientific community to “do something” about this deadly virus. And as luck would have it, there is an “experimental Ebola vaccine” that is ready to be tested on humans next month. If Ebola starts to spread outside of Africa, and especially if it starts spreading inside the United States, people will be absolutely clamoring to get this vaccine. But will it be safe? And there will certainly be millions of people that do not want to take this vaccine under any circumstances. If the outbreak gets bad enough, will it be made mandatory at some point? If they do make it mandatory for all Americans to take an Ebola vaccine, what will you do?
Up until now, there has never been a vaccine for Ebola. But as Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Instutites of Health recently told “CBS This Morning”, that could soon change…
They say that if this vaccine is approved, it could potentially be available to the public at some point in 2015.
If a full-blown Ebola epidemic is raging by that time, the demand will be overwhelming. But many people will not be satisfied to just get the vaccine themselves. They will want everyone living around them in their communities to get vaccinated as well for the sake of “herd immunity”. They will argue that those that refuse to get the Ebola vaccine are endangering public health.
So could politicians make the Ebola vaccine mandatory for all Americans at some point? According to a paper by Jared P. Cole and Kathleen S. Swendiman, many states already have laws that allow for mandatory vaccinations “during a public health emergency”…
Many states also have laws providing for mandatory vaccinations during a public health emergency or outbreak of a communicable disease. Generally, the power to order such actions rests with the governor of the state or with a state health officer. For example, a governor may have the power to supplement the state’s existing compulsory vaccination programs and institute additional programs in the event of a civil defense emergency period. Or, a state health officer may, upon declaration of a public health emergency, order an individual to be vaccinated “for communicable diseases that have significant morbidity or mortality and present a severe danger to public health.” In addition, exemptions may be provided for medical reasons or where objections are based on religion or conscience. However, if a person refuses to be vaccinated, he or she may be quarantined during the public health emergency giving rise to the vaccination order. State statutes may also provide additional authority to permit specified groups of persons to be trained to administer vaccines during an emergency in the event insufficient health care professionals are available for vaccine administration.
But what about on the national level?
Well, it has never been done before, but that doesn’t mean that the Obama administration would not try. Barack Obama seems to believe that the power of the presidency is virtually endless, and we have already seen him sign a series of very frightening executive orders. In fact, as I noted the other day, Obama just signed an executive order that gives him the power to apprehend and detain Americans that show symptoms of “diseases that are associated with fever and signs and symptoms of pneumonia or other respiratory illness, are capable of being transmitted from person to person, and that either are causing, or have the potential to cause, a pandemic, or, upon infection, are highly likely to cause mortality or serious morbidity if not properly controlled.”
It wouldn’t seem like it would be too much more of a stretch for him to sign an executive order requiring the vaccination of all Americans in the event of a major Ebola outbreak. And if we were in the middle of a full-blown pandemic where millions of Americans were dying, a large chunk of the population would definitely support such a move.
In addition to the Ebola vaccine that is being developed, it also conveniently turns out that there are several experimental Ebola drugs in the works as well. For example, it is being reported that the two American health workers that contracted Ebola while working in Africa have had their lives saved by one of these experimental drugs…
Two American missionary workers infected with the deadly Ebola virus were given an experimental drug that seems to have saved their lives. Dr. Kent Brantly was given the medication, ZMapp, shortly after telling his doctors he thought he would die, according to a source familiar with his case. Within an hour, doctors say his symptoms — labored breathing and a widespread rash — dramatically improved. Nancy Writebol, another missionary working with Samaritan’s Purse, received two doses of the medication and has also shown significant improvement, sources say.
Needless to say, the company that makes this experimental drug (Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc.) stands to make a giant pile of money by the time this crisis is over.
And another drug company called Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is also getting a lot of attention right now. According to CNN, shares of Tekmira Pharmaceuticals soared 40 percent last week alone…
There is no cure for Ebola. But don’t tell that to traders. Shares of a Vancouver-based company working on a drug to treat the infectious disease surged nearly 40% last week. Tekmira Pharmaceuticals popped on much higher trading volume than usual because investors are hopeful that health agencies in the United States might approve its drug, known as TKM-Ebola.
If Ebola does indeed turn out to be a horrific global health crisis, there will be opportunities for certain companies to make billions upon billions of dollars.
But how will we know that an Ebola vaccine or an Ebola drug is safe? There have been dozens upon dozens of examples of pharmaceutical drugs that were approved by the government that later turned out to be incredibly harmful.
Sadly, most people don’t stop to think about those examples. They just continue to have blind faith in the drug companies. And if Ebola does start spreading rapidly in this country, there will be millions of Americans that are begging for whatever “solutions” the drug companies come up with.
Michael T. Snyder is a graduate of the University of Florida law school and he worked as an attorney in the heart of Washington D.C. for a number of years.
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