Economics of pandemics: Is Ebola eradication possible?

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Is corporate conspiracy in pandemics like Covid-19, Ebola and civil war a reality or fiction of conspirators who are just angry that a few have amassed more wealth than them?

Would conspirators switch sides if they could take the place of the world’s one per cent, is it only among thieves or is there no honour among all men?

Consider this fact from Oxfam, ‘New figures from the Peoples Vaccine Alliance reveal that the companies behind two of the most successful Covid-19 vaccines —Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna— are making combined profits of US$65,000 every minute.’

Oxfam said this in a 2020 report titled ‘Power, Profits and the Pandemic: From corporate extraction for the few to an economy that works for all.’

“The worsening inequality crisis triggered by Covid-19 is fueled by an economic model that has allowed some of the world’s largest corporations to funnel billions of dollars in profits to shareholders, giving yet another windfall to the world’s top billionaires, a small group of mostly white men.”

“ At the same time, it has left low-wage workers and women to pay the price of the pandemic without social or financial protection. Since the onset of the pandemic, large corporations have put profits before workers’ safety, pushed costs down the supply chain and used their political influence to shape policy responses.”

If those facts are not enough to point to a corporate conspiracy, consider this other statement by Oxfam; “It is obscene that just a few companies are making millions of dollars in profit every single hour (from Covid-19), while just two per cent of people in low-income countries have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus.”

And: “Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna have used their monopolies to prioritise the most profitable contracts with the richest governments, leaving low-income countries out in the cold.”

Oxfam also reveals that: “Despite receiving public funding of over $8 billion, the three corporations have refused calls to urgently transfer vaccine technology and know-how with capable producers in low- and middle-income countries via the World Health Organisation (WHO), a move that could increase global supply, drive down prices and save millions of lives.”

In a nutshell, these companies are making a bank from Covid-19 and its value chain, so to speak.

  • Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna— are making combined profits of US$65,000 every minute.
  • A few companies make millions of dollars in profit every hour (from Covid-19).
  • Despite receiving public funding of over US$8 billion public funding, the three corporations have refused calls to urgently transfer vaccine technology.

Also Read: New Ebola reports in Congo puts Kenya’s government on high alert

If you find it difficult to believe that another man not only stands to profit from your suffering but that they actually craft every possible means to ensure you suffer so they can profit from your agony, then you are not only naïve but arrogant.

I say this because facts such as those issued by Oxfam are readily available, yet many refuse to see or seek facts. Not surprising, after all, it is easier to bury one’s head in the ground rather than face the hard truth; the corporate conspiracy is real, it is the order of the day, it is not unique or isolated, it is the norm.

Lets take the Oxfam Covid-19 facts that point to possible corporate conspiracy and rethink Ebola in Africa. Recently, the Tanzania Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, the Elderly and Children pointed out that they are five regions that are ‘at highest risk being affected by the outbreak of Ebola and declared a high alert and set up contingency plans, the cost of a ‘threat’ already starts to mount up national expenses, imagine the cost of an actual outbreak.

Now, they are no Ebola cases in Tanzania, but the surrounding countries have recurrent cases of the deadly disease. Just this month alone, Ebola claimed 23 people in Uganda and 43 identified cases. The month before, in September, Uganda’s ministry of health reported that 43 cases and 23 deaths.

The ‘threat’ of Ebola and actual outbreaks cost Africa millions of dollars in containment, isolation and treatment, to mention a few parts of the long value chain of pandemics.

While on the one hand, the value chain in medication, transportation and healthcare gears profits a few CEOs of related global suppliers; on the other hand, it cripples the economy of the victim country.

With a shaken economy, countries are more susceptible to accepting ‘aid’ along with the related ‘terms’ that profit the few CEOs all over again in mine deals, tax breaks, exclusive export zones, etc.

The most common outbreaks of Ebola occur in the mineral-rich Democratic Republic of the Congo; they have an outbreak almost every year. Like Covid-19, now there are vaccines available for Ebola and seen as horrific as the disease is, it is no surprise vaccination is just short of mandatory; and you guessed it, Africa has no ‘legal’ right to produce the vaccine, they have to buy it, a potential corporate conspiracy.

Also Read: Five EAC member states named in WHO’s Ebola risk priority

Also, like Covid-19, there is no admission of lab-cultured pathogens rather, they are both explained as human-animal contact. Interestingly enough, all communities are accused of having these ‘rare’ animal contacts, usually by consuming some infected animal; these communities have been living (and even consuming) these animals for centuries, so why all of a sudden, the same game meat cause them a fatal very infectious disease?

In the case of Ebola, the disease was first reported back in 1976. Still, major outbreaks occurred much later, around 2014–2016, spreading through West Africa in countries like Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, then on to Central Africa (or a version of it appeared) then now we are getting transmission cases as far as East Africa in landlocked Uganda and threats of the same in port countries like Tanzania.

Before it infects humans, Ebola ‘is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as fruit bats, chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope, or porcupines found ill or dead or in the rain forest.

Notice the list of animals; these are very common in an African forest and any bushes or shrubs in any human settlement (across the world). Again, while scientists explain the epistemology of the disease, they fail to explain why after centuries of safe contact, now these animals are infecting humans.

Scientists know that ‘Ebola then spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola.’

This known chain of transmission leads to a value chain of medicines, vaccines, safety gears, fuel etc it is the key factor that causes global threat and triggers the need for a response that equates to millions of dollars being siphoned to a handful of corporations, sounds like a corporate conspiracy to me.

If Oxfam was to do research on pharmaceuticals that have stood to gain from Ebola we may be surprised to find that millions are being made on the back of suffering Africans, imaging making money from someone bleeding to death, from every part of their body!

Facts about Ebola

  • Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a rare but severe, often fatal illness in humans.
  • The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
  • The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.
  • Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks.
  • Vaccines to protect against Ebola have been developed and have been used to help control the spread of Ebola outbreaks in Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
  • Early supportive care with rehydration, and symptomatic treatment improves survival.

Read: Focus on Africa: Exposing gruesome Inequality

Giza Mdoe is an experienced journalist with 10 plus years. He's been a Creative Director on various brand awareness campaigns and a former Copy Editor for some of Tanzania's leading newspapers. He's a graduate with a BA in Journalism from the University of San Jose.

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