ZMapp highlights global health bias

Signal of change / ZMapp highlights global health bias

By Anna Simpson / 12 Aug 2014

A drug to neutralise Ebola was successfully tested on humans, leading to its commercialisation, only after two US citizens contracted the virus. 


ZMapp, the drug in question, was developed by Mapp Biopharmaceuticals – a private company based in San Diego – and proved effective when tested on mice. It combines three antibodies that bind to the Ebola virus glycoprotein to inhibit infection. 


However, despite hundreds of deaths in Africa, ZMapp wasn’t developed for human use until Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, missionaries from the US working in a hospital in Liberia, were infected.

Image credit: Luke Jerram

So what?

The testing and commercialisation of the drug following the contraction of Ebola by two US citizens led to criticism of inequality in global health provision. 


Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, proclaimed, “The fight against Ebola is also a fight against inequality. The knowledge and infrastructure to treat the sick and contain the virus exists in high- and middle-income counties. However, over many years, we have failed to make these things accessible to low-income people in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.”


What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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