MOSCOW, October 20 (RIA Novosti), Ekaterina Blinova - Although Ebola is a deadly virus which poses a substantial threat to humanity, it seems that some organizations and firms have grasped a chance to benefit from the global Ebola hysteria.
Who could actually benefit from the Ebola epidemic? On August 11, 2014 Benzinga, a financial media outlet, listed four biotech companies that "might benefit from Ebola research," particularly Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, Sarepta Therapeutics, NanoViricides and BioCryst Pharmaceuticals. The companies have succeeded in testing anti-Ebola vaccines on animals and their stocks have risen sharply with the deadly virus outbreak. According to the Guardian, "Tekmira shares rose a massive 180% from mid-July to October, with most of the share-price action coming when the virus jumped to Europe and the US."
Experts point to the fact that pharma giants will apparently benefit from the epidemic, stressing that preventing the spread of the disease during its early stages was not in the business interest of pharmaceutical companies.
"There was no business case to make an Ebola vaccine for the people who needed it most: first because of the nature of the outbreak; second, the number of people likely to be affected was, until now, thought to be very small; and third, the fact that the people affected are in some of the poorest countries in the world and can't afford to pay for a new vaccine. It's a market failure," wrote the Independent in September 2014, citing Professor Adrian Hill of Oxford University.
In his article "Big pharma has an interest in rich people being sick," published in October 2014, Dr. Giles Fraser, priest-in-charge at St. Mary's Newington in south London, underscored that although Ebola was discovered in 1976, biotech companies have not yet invented an efficient vaccine. "Apparently, the market-driven economics of health care do not have an answer to a virus that begins in a part of the world where there isn’t much money," the priest notes. However, since the virus has reached the shores of the developed countries, the epidemic has turned into a "business case."
As Ebola hysteria is growing, the stakes are getting higher. Obviously, the mass media plays an important role in spreading the fear. Experts acknowledge that the risk of Ebola is evidently overblown. Dr. Ron Paul, a prominent US politician and former Republican Congressman who is an obstetrician by trade has expressed his concerns regarding "the media's obsession with Ebola," while "there are so many other even more serious diseases like tuberculosis and HIV that claim far more lives each year." Indeed, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 2.8 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses and Tuberculosis worldwide in 2012. In comparison to these figures, Ebola's death toll does not look nearly as grim: since its outbreak in December 2013, the Ebola virus has killed only 4,500 people.
The Ebola threat has triggered various conspiracy theories. The fact that the US federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) patented the Ebola virus has added fuel to the fire. According to the US patent number 20120251502, the owner of "Human Ebola Virus Species and Compositions and Methods Thereof" is "the Government of the US as Represented by the Secretary of the Department of Health." The New York Times reported on October 18, 2014, that "accusations appeared online contending that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention… was poised to make a fortune from a new vaccine it had created with the pharmaceutical industry."
Meanwhile, the Daily Observer, Liberia’s main English-language newspaper, claims that the US and European countries benefit from the mess in West Africa that has been caused by the deadly disease. The media outlet suggests that the infection of the population of the African states might be deliberate, and points the finger at vaccination programs carried out by the WHO and Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders). While the medical organizations and pharma firms are using Africans as "Guinea pigs," the developed powers are conducting post-colonial bio-warfare in order to maintain control over resource-rich West Africa, noted Dr. Cyril Broderick, a former Professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Liberia’s College of Agriculture and Forestry, in his article "Ebola, AIDS Manufactured By Western Pharmaceuticals, US DoD?" published in the Daily Observer in September 2014.
While the heated debate flared up by conspiracy theorists rages on, numerous swindlers are gaining profits from the Ebola outbreak. "As Ebola makes headlines all over the world, scams are beginning to emerge which the Better Business Bureau cautions the public to be aware of," Guardian Liberty Voice exposed. Better Business Bureau, an American nonprofit organization focused on advancing trust in the marketplace, pointed out that scammers rushed to capitalize upon popular fear and Ebola hysteria. They call on people to make donations to non-existent charities "which claim they provide assistance and relief to Ebola victims." Another group of fraudsters are selling stock options for companies which "have developed a cure for Ebola."
While businesses and scammers are grasping their chance to obtain profits, the question remains, when the deadly disease which has been killing people since December 2013 will ultimately be stopped.
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