La ética de la lucha contra el ébola

PRINCETON – Al final podría ser una suerte que un puñado de personas de los países desarrollados –cuatro en los Estados Unidos y una en España– haya contraído el ébola. Por trágico que fuera para Thomas Duncan, el único de esos pacientes que ha muerto, si todos los más de 13.000 casos y casi 5.000 muertes hubieran ocurrido en África, el ébola nunca habría despertado ni mucho menos tanta atención en los países ricos.

A este respecto, el ébola es –o, mejor dicho, era– un ejemplo de lo que a veces se denomina la regla de 90/10: el 90 por ciento de la investigación médica se centra en enfermedades que representan tan sólo el diez por ciento de la morbilidad mundial. El mundo conoce el carácter mortífero del virus ébola desde 1976, pero, como sus víctimas eran pobres, las compañías farmacéuticas no tenían incentivos para obtener una vacuna. De hecho, las compañías farmacéuticas podían abrigar la esperanza de ganar más con una cura de la calvicie masculina.

Los fondos estatales para la investigación en los países ricos van encaminados también desproporcionadamente a luchar contra las enfermedades que matan a ciudadanos de esos países, en lugar de enfermedades como el paludismo y la diarrea que provocan una pérdida de vidas mucho mayor.

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