Efficacy in Emergency Legal Preparedness Underlying the 2014 Ebola Outbreak
Texas A&M Law Review 2015; 2: 353-383
32 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2015
Date Written: June 3, 2015
From its relative obscurity over the past three decades, Ebola viral disease (“EVD”) emerged as a substantial global biothreat in 2014 and 2015. The current outbreak of varied strains of Ebola, beginning in March 2014 in Guinea, is projected to impact hundreds of thousands of people over months, years, or even indefinitely. As of October 31, 2014, the spread of EVD was concentrated in several African countries (e.g., Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and an unrelated outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo), with limited additional cases in Nigeria, Senegal, and Mali. Over 2,700 people are known to have died from Ebola in fewer than eight months in Liberia alone; the actual death toll may be far higher. At one point, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) estimated a worst-case scenario of 1.4 million new cases arising largely in already affected countries by early 2015. Reported cases in the affected regions are considerably less than these estimates, but with a fatality rate hovering near 50%, thousands more West Africans may perish before the end of this current outbreak.
Countering these dire threats are multiple international and regional response efforts fueled by hundreds of millions of relief dollars. Critically-needed supplies are being funneled to West Africa. Thousands of health care workers (“HCWs”) from the United States, Europe, China, and Cuba, among other countries, are responding despite significant risks to their own health and safety. Rapid development and testing of vaccines and treatments are underway. In the interim, an array of existing experimental medications is currently being used or considered on a limited basis. These interventions may help lower human morbidity and mortality rates related to EVD so long as they are well-timed, efficacious, and ethically allocated.
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