The head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) undercut his own boss on television Sunday. In an appearance on Meet the Press, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he disagreed NIH director Francis Collins about whether we we would have an Ebola vaccine by now if not for budget cuts.
Chuck Todd: One of your colleagues seemed to hint that if you guys had been funded, had more money, you would have a vaccine today. Was that hyperbole?
Dr. Fauci: I don’t agree with that I have to tell you quite honestly. I think that the NIH has had constraints in resources for 10 years and all of biomedical research has been less than its robust activity.
Chuck Todd: But you don’t believe that we’d have a vaccine today.
Dr. Fauci: You can’t say that. I think you can’t say we would or would not have this or that. Everything has slowed down but I wouldn’t make that statement.
Dr. Fauci is the head of NIAID, the division of NIH which oversees Ebola research. His exchange on the subject comes one week after NIH Director Collins stated in an interview with the Huffington Post, “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in researchsupport, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this thatwould’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”
As Breitbart News reported last week, there are multiple Ebola drugs and vaccines which have been tested and shown promising results in animals. Some of these drugs have been ready for human testing for as long as a decade. The lead researcher behind one of the vaccines now being put through trials and Ebola experts assembled by the World Health Organization agree the real issue is that there was little financial incentive to bring Ebola vaccines to market prior to the current outbreak.
Most previous Ebola outbreaks have been relatively small, infecting only a few hundred people at a time. Prior to the current outbreak, just under 1,600 people have died from Ebola since it was identified in 1976. This means the disease has a relatively small potential market compared to other, more widespread diseases. For instance, the WHO says HIV killed 1.6 million people in 2012 alone.
Democrats have been trying to connect the disorganized response to the current Ebola outbreak to Republican budget cutting. The Washington Post looked at those claims and gave them 4 Pinocchios, largely because recent budget cuts have been bipartisan. Even the sequester was proposed originally by the White House and went into effect after President Obama could not agree to a budget deal with Republicans.