The Burial of Ebola
Thanks to Science and political will one good thing did happen in 2016, when science is enabled instead of hobbled, better days come.
The Ebola epidemic of 2014-15 claimed 11,300 lives in West Africa, spread the virus as far as New York and Texas, and exposed the failures of the world public-health system—but at least the experience is concluding with a feat of medical and human progress. Last week researchers presented compelling evidence of the first, and 100% effective, Ebola vaccine.
Writing in the journal the Lancet, an international consortium released the final results of an experiment in Guinea, which found that a drug called rVSV-Zebov triggers rapid Ebola immunity after a single dose. The vaccine is an achievement for science and even government, believe it or not.
The genetic biology of Ebola is vulnerable to antibodies, and multiple promising vaccines have been under investigation for years amid post-9/11 bioterror risks, but the regulatory delays have been fearsome. The public-health bureaucracy also resists therapeutics, which threaten traditional manpower-heavy quarantines and tracking. These can help in a hot zone, but the Ebola outbreak became an emergency when it reached crowded urban areas and overwhelmed protocol. Nor do the field conditions of the epidemiological theater lend themselves to a conventional randomized clinical trial.