This isn’t entirely unprecedented — in the past, Time has named groups like The American Soldier or The Protestor the most influential “person” of the year.
In choosing Ebola Fighters for the award, Time noted that though Ebola has existed for decades, only this year did it come close to becoming the sort of worldwide panic that some have had nightmares of for decades. In response to that, some stepped up, writes Time editor Nancy Gibbs:
“The people in the field, the special forces of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the Christian medical-relief workers of Samaritan’s Purse and many others from all over the world fought side by side with local doctors and nurses, ambulance drivers and burial teams.”
Other finalists for the title included singer Taylor Swift, the protestors in Ferguson, Mo., and Russian President Vladimir Putin.