The African Union is holding an emergency meeting on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. More than 2,000 people have been killed, and the United Nations has warned the toll could hit 20,000 before the virus is contained. Hopes were slightly raised over the weekend as a new study found an experimental vaccine gave full protection to monkeys for at least five weeks to up to 10 months. It is the first time a vaccine program has led to sustained Ebola immunity. U.S. researchers have now begun human trials. On Friday, WHO Assistant Director General Marie-Paule Kieny said two experimental vaccines could be available for health workers by November.
Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny: “We will have results of safety by November 2014, and after that, these vaccines will start to be rolled out in the affected countries, starting with healthcare workers and other front-line staff in the affected countries. So this is real. This is going into the field. This is not staying it in laboratories.”
Obama: U.S. Military Will Assist Global Ebola Response
The United Nations has now set a goal of containing the epidemic within six to nine months. Speaking to NBC’s “Meet the Press,” President Obama said the U.S. military will play a role in the international response.
President Obama: “We’re going to have to get U.S. military assets just to set up, for example, isolation units and equipment there to provide security for public health workers surging from around the world. If we do that, then it’s still going to be months before this problem is controllable in Africa, but it shouldn’t reach our shores. … If we don’t make that effort now and this spreads, not just through Africa, but other parts of the world, there is the prospect then that the virus mutates, it becomes more easily transmittable, and then it could be a serious danger to the United States.”