At BARDA we are honored to have the leaders of our Ebola Medical Countermeasures Taskforce selected as finalists for Service to America Medals during this year’s Public Service Recognition Week. The recognition is a testament to the success of public-private collaboration in protecting health security. Long before COVID-19, dedicated civil servants were working to prepare the U.S.’s response to pandemics and other public health emergencies. The rapid control of the re-emergence of Ebola in recent months provides dramatic proof that preparedness efforts make a difference in global and domestic public health.
In early 2014, the world had limited diagnostics and only preclinical stage vaccines and therapeutics to diagnose, prevent, or treat Ebola. Today the U.S. has four FDA approved, cleared, or licensed medical countermeasures to combat Ebola and some of those technologies are being applied in the COVID-19 pandemic
When Ebola hit West Africa in 2014, the Ebola MCM Taskforce at BARDA led by David Boucher, PhD, Dan Wolfe, PhD, and John Lee, PhD, worked with our private sector and government partners on the research and development of therapeutics, vaccines, and diagnostic tests. Products from that work have been used to halt the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in West and Central Africa and avert the possibility of a pandemic. While most of the world has been focused on COVID-19, this team continued to work with our private industry partners and agency colleagues to be sure that the world was able to respond swiftly and effectively when new cases of Ebola emerged last year and again this year.
I want to thank the Partnership for Public Service for honoring these scientists. Their work demonstrates the power of medical countermeasures to save lives not only in responding to public health emergencies but also in averting them.
Gary L. Disbrow, PhD