On Meet the Press yesterday, Anthony Fauci was asked whether it was “hyperbole” that the world would have an Ebola vaccine today if Congress had more generously funded the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). “You can’t say we would or would not have this or that,” said Fauci, who heads NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Bethesda, Maryland, a leading supporter of Ebola vaccine research.
A week earlier, here’s what Fauci’s boss, NIH Director Francis Collins, told The Huffington Post: “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would've gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”
NIAID’s high-profile director challenging the NIH director is the kind of political contretemps that easily explodes into a great inside-the-Beltway brouhaha. Witness the story in The Washington Post story today, “A public dispute between NIH officials over Ebola,” that references several other related stories.
As it turns out, Fauci and Collins agree that big pharma’s lack of interest in Ebola vaccine development is the main reason no product was ready for this epidemic.