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J Bioeth Inq. 2014 Dec;11(4):421-3. doi: 10.1007/s11673-014-9580-x. Epub 2014 Oct 8.

Ebola virus in West Africa: waiting for the owl of Minerva.

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Department of Family and Community Medicine and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Division of Clinical Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada,


The evolving Ebola epidemic in West Africa is unprecedented in its size and scope, requiring the rapid mobilization of resources. It is too early to determine all of the ethical challenges associated with the outbreak, but these should be monitored closely. Two issues that can be discussed are (1) the decision to implement and evaluate unregistered agents to determine therapeutic or prophylactic safety and efficacy and (2) the justification behind this decision. In this paper, I argue that it is not compassionate use that justifies this decision and suggest three lines of reasoning to support the decision.

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