First we were assured that Ebola would never come to the US. Comforting if reality doesn’t interfere. Seriously, we prepare for bird flu which we expect to travel from Asia. West Africa is closer. Attempts to quarantine an entire country or 2 or 3, that will only slow things. Perhaps a quarantine of Texas would make us feel better, but wouldn’t be effective either.
So sooner or later, there will be an outbreak in the US, but we can rely on our superior health care system. We have a wonderful tiered health care system that gives excellent results for the top tier. While the US leads the wealthy nations in medically preventable deaths with an estimated 100,000 per year, this does not effect the excellent care delivered to the top tier consumers. If your housekeeper, nanny, restaurant worker, farm worker, or employees drop dead from thyroid disease, appendicitis, tetanus infections, abdominal hernia, colon cancer, measles and epilepsy, leukemia, cervical cancer, diabetes or heart disease they are replaceable without any noticeable disruption. A rate we can live with unless they begin passing around a communicable disease.
In Texas we saw an Ebola patient sent home to infect more people. We now know both the patients travel history was available to both nurses and doctor who ignored it. This isn’t appendicitis. The uninsured and underinsured can transmit the disease to those who have top tier insurance. Thomas Duncan’s family was quarantined in the apartment where the virus was believed to be present for a week before being moved and workers in hazmat suits moved in to clean up. Duncan’s stepdaughter and husband who helped the sick Duncan into the ambulance have self quarantined, but are not receiving any support in their efforts, like someone to bring meals. This does not inspire confidence.
We shouldn’t put too much faith in our superior medical technology to produce better outcomes for those who contract the disease. Although the first American’s with Ebola were successfully treated with ZMapp, the supply is gone. A spokeperson on the weekend news repeated faith in our healthcare and then related the major treatment available was fluids. Replenishing fluids, IV fluids and lots of fluids.
It just seems with all of our available technology that we might have engineered something more effective to combat a disease that first appeared in the 70’s. Google had a link to a vaccine which is owned by the Canadian government and licensed to an American company in 2010, but as with the Zmapp there hasn’t been a profit motive to mass produce either the vaccine or the cure.
A few days after it was reported the Ebola vaccine delay may be due to an intellectual property dispute, Canada has acted and is moving forward with testing and production.
I get the whole free market system. But if the US is going to send troops, (human beings), into danger, shouldn’t we send them with the best available weapons and protective gear? In the case of fighting Ebola it might consist of a vaccine and ZMapp.
How many people are we willing to sacrifice to protect corporate profits? Or is a for profit healthcare model the most effective means of saving lives?