Ebola is the issue of the day, and with good reason. By rough estimate of the World Health Organization, or WHO, the unprecedented epidemic had infected 6,808 and killed 3,159 as of September 25. Unofficial estimates say the real number is far higher than that, because many people with the disease are afraid to come forward.
The following graph, is taken from Wikipedia, but the numbers are from the WHO. The tale told by this smooth parabolic arc is a terrifying one; eradication efforts do not even appear to have slowed the spread of the disease. And it gets worse. The WHO first reported that the disease had a mortality rate of 50%, but the rate has been revised upwards to 70.8%, the same rate recorded in previous outbreaks of the dangerous strain of Ebola, “Zaire.” The U.S. Center for Disease Control, or CDC, is now reporting that in a worst case scenario, Ebola will have infected 1.4 million people by December of 2015.
No one has ever contracted Ebola in America, but Americans have been infected in Africa and returned to America for treatment. Although even that was somewhat controversial, it was tightly controlled. On Tuesday night, a man who had just returned to the U.S. from West Africa was diagnosed with the disease, prompting fear in Dallas that the man may have infected others. The incident reminded all Americans that despite assurances from the CDC that it would be nearly impossible for Ebola to spread here, we are not immune.
This is a bad situation, but don't feel ghoulish. There is no shame in profiting from a bad situation, so long as you profit while ending pain, saving lives, or improving things in some other way, as the companies I name here are doing. When these companies chose to invest in medicine to treat Ebola, it was with little hope of ever making a big payday – Ebola is a disease of the poor. If they make money now as a result of having done the right thing when they did, they deserve it, and if you make money because you believe in them, so do you. Save your wrath for those companies that will spring up in an effort to profit from this calamity despite having nothing to offer – the snake oil peddlers, the rumor spreaders and the fear mongers.