An Ebola Vaccine Would Have Been Developed Already, but Congress…

NIH director

Meet Dr. Francis Collins.

He is a man under a little bit of stress at the moment, although his rocking rendition of a Buffalo Springfield jam doesn’t show it. Collins is the director for the National Institutes of Health, and given the hullabaloo over Ebola, the man’s visibility (if not his popularity) has increased a skosh.

Dr. Collins has been poked and prodded for a comment about efforts to halt this terrible ailment, and he uncorked one — shots fired at Capitol Hill!

Basically, he would have had a vaccine already but for the thing we call Congress.

In this HuffPo article we learn that Collins blamed the lack of an Ebola vaccine on “a decade of stagnant spending”, which “has slowed down research on all items, including vaccinations for infectious diseases.”

“NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It’s not like we suddenly woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here.’ Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”

nih budgetAnd he’s not the only one. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had her finger pointed in … well, her own direction. This article from the Boston Herald shows Warren is little terse toward her colleagues during this time of medical crisis.

“We knew about this many years ago and started funding research on it. And then, with all the spending cutbacks and all the pressure on the National Institutes of Health, much of that research has been shelved. People have lost their lives, we’re all very worried, instead of spending the money in advance to do more of the research to avoid this kind of problem.”

NIH funding has been cut by $1.2 billion over the past four years, before adjusting for inflation. Once accounting for inflation, NIH has lost more than 10 percent of its purchasing power since 2010 and the CDC program that supports public health professionals working on the front lines of the Ebola epidemic has been cut by 16 percent during that same time span.

We wonder whether all the pundits will now target Congress on this issue, given recent events.