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Why Did the Americans Get the Drugs?

I mentioned yesterday the question of why these two American doctors happened to have gotten what may have been a life saving treatment for Ebola when hundreds of people in Africa have already died in the current outbreak. The cynical explanation is that American lives just count for more than Africans from impoverished countries - and I don't rule out some element of that. But when I first heard this story the big thing that jumped out to me was the issue of informed consent. Because this treatment was so new as to almost not amount to a treatment - more like a promising research lead. And the history of using humans as essentially human guinea pigs is, to put it mildly, a very dark history. Here's an email from TPM Reader HB which throws some more light on the question ...

You ask: "So how are we only hearing about this treatment when two American aid workers came down with the disease after going on 800 people have died in the current outbreak in three countries in Africa?"

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Mixing

I'm doing an on-going project of digitizing more than fifteen years of long-hand notes. (If you're interested, let me know: I think I've come up with a pretty efficient and effective workflow on how to do this.) Much of it, as you might expect, is more than a decade of notes tied to TPM - a mix of reporting, brainstorming, business planning, budgeting and a whole bunch of other stuff. But I was just scanning a notebook from early 1999. And it's a curious mix of notes for reporting I was doing on the Lewinsky trial for Salon and notes I was taking planning out the structure of the remaining chapters of my dissertation.

On one page will be a sprawl of notes of impressions watching the proceedings, quotes from sources, notes to myself about who the sources are, ground rules agreed to. Then the next page will be chapter outlines. Sometimes they invade each others pages. Usually it's dissertation planning invading my reporting notes. Occasionally, it's the opposite. But it's usually the first because my reporting was already supplanting my thinking about history and Indians and English settlers in the 17th century.

A Big Question

I mentioned earlier that those two infected American aide workers in Liberia had been given an experimental Ebola treatment which seemed to have a dramatic effect on the course of their illness. So how are we only hearing about this treatment when two American aid workers came down with the disease after going on 800 people have died in the current outbreak in three countries in Africa? We shouldn't assume the answers are bad ones. But there's no ignoring the question. Here's a new piece just out from the AP on the US government's role in securing several courses of the treatment, which had never been tested on humans before and had undergone only limited tests in monkeys.

Oooofff

To commemorate Rep. Mo Brooks' (R-AL) inauguration of the official "War on Whites" - which might be better termed the "War on Christmas" finally coming out of the closet and just letting it all hang out - definitely check out the #waronwhites hashtag on Twitter. It would be entertaining enough for the snark that goes back for the last few hours, presumably kicked off by Brooks' comments. But once you get a day or so back it's racist morons lamenting the impending white genocide. Sort of like two very, very different groups of people having parties within ear shot of each other. For now at least the progressive snarks have totally taken over the feed.

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