Did NIH budget cuts delay an Ebola vaccine?

Mike Eisen makes an excellent point about NIH Director Francis Collins’ recent claims:

But what really bothers me the most about this is that, rather than trying to exploit the current hysteria about Ebola by offering a quid-pro-quo “Give me more money and I’ll deliver and Ebola vaccine”, Collins should be out there pointing out that the reason we’re even in a position to develop an Ebola vaccine is because of our long-standing investment in basic research, and that the real threat we face is not Ebola, but the fact that, by having slashed the NIH budget and made it increasingly difficult to have a stable career in science, we’re making it less and less likely that we’ll be equipped to handle all of the future challenges to public health that we’re going to be face in the future.

You can make a better case about the direct impact of funding cuts with the shrinking budget CDC Public Health Preparedness Funding, as Judy Stone notes over at Scientific American.

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2 responses to “Did NIH budget cuts delay an Ebola vaccine?

  1. Sooraj Kuttykrishnan

    I am not sure about this. Yes it would be a more nuanced argument to suggest that the current state of funding could lead to inabilities to deal with future challenges. However, it seems to me, that what gets traction in politics or even policy circles is not such sophisticated suggestions, rather an easier to digest, albeit not quite correct pleas.

    • Hey Sooraj! I hope all is well with you.

      You’re right – nuance will not fly here. We must be blunt – politicians need to know there are real, concrete consequences to the erosion of the NIH budget. What I liked in particular about Eisen’s comment is starting with the positive framing – NIH funding made it possible to be as close to a vaccine as we are, and by neglecting the budget, we’re taking that away.

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