Three facilities located in the United States of America possess the potential to fast-track a cure for the Ebola virus, which is fast becoming one of the most feared viral outbreaks in the world.
The US Department of Health, in partnership with the private sector, collaborated to form what are known as, Centres for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing (ADM). These facilities were created in order to be able to rapidly respond to any kind of health threat in the US, be it viral, nuclear, biological or chemical. These ADM’s have the facilities and expertise to immediately respond to natural outbreaks and bio terrorism and can manufacture vaccines at a rapid rate in order to counteract any fast-spreading epidemics that the country may experience.
This method of rapid manufacturing could prove vital in saving countless lives, as West Africa is experiencing its worst outbreak of Ebola in world history and the disease is spreading faster than the affected countries are managing to control, even after the virus has been declared a world health crisis and the nations have brought their respective militaries into action to aid in the containing of the virus.
To date, the majority of the Ebola virus vaccines have only been clinically tested on monkeys and have not yet been approved in the US for human testing. Thus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is convening an emergency ethics board of experts to discuss the potential fast-tracking of promising vaccinations in order to prevent further spread of the disease currently plaguing West Africa. The team of bioethicists would also need to discuss who would first receive the drugs and how they would be potentially distributed and managed.
The centres are not designed to invent vaccines to viruses, but rather to create a manufacturing line, as efficiently as possible, in order to synthesise vast quantities of it, if given a template for what exactly the drug is composed of. The idea is to take a vaccine created by a pharmaceutical company and replicate it extensively in order to respond to a crisis.
The legislation intends the laboratories to be used for citizens of the US and their protection, however their is sufficient ground to enable the president to extend the service onto allies of the United States, if it is within their national interest.
“They know our number and can call us 24 hours a day,” says Brett Giroir, who is the chief executive of Texas A and M Health Science Centre, which is the site of one of the facilities. “We are prepared.”