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Pledges of $3.4 billion for Ebola recovery made at United Nations

Pledges of $3.4 billion for Ebola recovery made at United Nations | Healthcare and Technology news |

 Some $3.4 billion in pledges were made at the United Nations on Friday to help Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea stamp out Ebola and begin rebuilding health systems and economies devastated by the worst outbreak on record of the deadly hemorrhagic fever.

The United Nations had said that $3.2 billion was needed to support the three states' national recovery plans for the next two years. Liberia's President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf had said $4 billion was needed to cover a separate sub-regional plan.

Helen Clark, head of the U.N. Development Programme, said the preliminary tally of pledges on Friday took the total amount allocated so far for Ebola recovery to more than $5 billion, which she described as "a great start."

Johnson-Sirleaf also again appealed for international donors to cancel debt owed by the West African nations.

"The world as a whole has a great stake in how we together respond to this global threat," Johnson-Sirleaf told the pledging conference. "Diseases, just like terrorism, know no national boundaries."

The Ebola outbreak, which began in Guinea in December 2013, has killed more than 11,200 people across West Africa. Ebola re-emerged in Liberia last week, nearly two months after it was declared free of the virus, while neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone are still struggling to eliminate it.

"The threat is never over until we rebuild the health sectors Ebola demolished, until we rebuild the livelihoods in agriculture that it compromised, until we shore up government revenues it dried up; and until we breathe life again into the private sector it has suffocated,"

Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma told the U.N. conference.

Among the largest pledges were some $381 million from Britain, $266 million from the United States, $650 million from the World Bank, $220 million from Germany, $500 million from the European Union, $745 million from the African Development Bank and $360 million from the Islamic Development Bank.

"We cannot yet breathe a sigh of relief. Instead, let us collectively take a deep breath and resolve to finish the job," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said earlier on Friday.

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Ebola Vaccine Appears Safe, Effective

Ebola Vaccine Appears Safe, Effective | Healthcare and Technology news |

Tests of an experimental Ebola vaccine have found that 100 percent of vaccinated people mounted a promising immune response and incurred no serious side effects, according to results published this morning in The New England Journal of Medicine. A large, international group of researchers report that between two studies, all 200 subjects in the United States, Switzerland, and Germany who were given the recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus-based vaccine (rVSV) vaccine developed an immune response that should be effective in warding off future infection.

The subjects in today's studies were not actually exposed to the Ebola virus after vaccination, so the appraisal of effectiveness is based on primate studies that give researchers an idea of how many antibodies are required to prevent infection. Some people who received the vaccine did develop fatigue, chills, and muscle aches, but no serious complications, and based on the formulation of the rVSV vaccine—which is a mixture of some Ebola Zaire viral proteins inside another more innocuous virus—it carries no risk of infecting patients with Ebola.

At least 10,000 people have died in West Africa as a result of the ongoing epidemic. Based on the findings reported today, this Ebola vaccine formulation has been incorporated into recently initiated human trials in Liberia and Guinea, and will be introduced in Sierra Leone in the near future.

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An Ebola Doctor’s Return From the Edge of Death

An Ebola Doctor’s Return From the Edge of Death | Healthcare and Technology news |
In his first interview, Dr. Ian Crozier, who was treated for Ebola at Emory University Hospital, speaks of what he saw treating the disease and his near-death experience after he was infected.
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At N.I.H., Obama Stresses Need to Keep Funding Fight Against Ebola

At N.I.H., Obama Stresses Need to Keep Funding Fight Against Ebola | Healthcare and Technology news |
President Obama on Tuesday praised researchers for their progress in developing a potential vaccine for Ebola and called on Congress to pass $6.2 billion in emergency funds to fight the virus, warning, “We cannot beat Ebola without more funding.”

With no new cases recently diagnosed in the United States, Mr. Obama used a visit to the National Institutes of Health to keep a spotlight on the crisis. Scientists there recently published promising results from early clinical trials of an experimental vaccine.

Lawmakers from both parties have supported financing to upgrade treatment centers in the United States and in West Africa, where the outbreak spread through Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

But with the House and Senate still not able to agree on how to fund the federal government past December, some experts worry that lawmakers could try to cut back the money.

Existing funds are running out, Mr. Obama said, and he urged Congress to act before Christmas. “Let’s get it done,” he said, adding that money for Ebola should not be subject to “normal politics.”
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Obama Calls for Ebola Research Funding
Obama Calls for Ebola Research Funding

On a visit to the National Institutes of Health, President Obama praised the work of researchers there and stressed the need for Congress to continue funding their research on Ebola treatments.
Video by Associated Press on Publish Date December 2, 2014.

“We cannot just fight this epidemic,” the president said to an audience of doctors, researchers and patients at the institute’s sprawling campus in Bethesda, Md. “We have to extinguish it.”

On Friday, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reported that an experimental vaccine it developed, along with the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, had produced good results in tests with 20 healthy adults, who developed antibodies against Ebola.

The volunteers did not show serious adverse side effects from the drug, although two briefly developed a fever within a day of taking it. In a news release, the institute said the positive results from these first human trials warranted an accelerated program of clinical trials.

“Last week’s news is still a first step,” the president said. “There are no guarantees.”

Before his speech, Mr. Obama was given a tour of an Ebola laboratory by Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the institute, and Nancy J. Sullivan, a senior researcher on Ebola at its Vaccine Research Center. Dr. Sullivan showed the president a set of slides on a computer screen. He told her he had “brushed up on my organic chem, and I’m ready to go.”

“Tony and I were fondly reminiscing about SARS and H1N1,” Mr. Obama joked, referring to severe acute respiratory syndrome and Avian influenza, two highly contagious airborne diseases that were nevertheless less deadly among humans than Ebola. “That’s what these guys do for fun.”

Mr. Obama claimed significant progress in fighting Ebola since October, when he named Ron Klain to coordinate the federal response after the administration was criticized for being slow-footed in its reaction to the first cases in the United States.

There were just three designated Ebola treatment centers in the nation two months ago, he said; now there are 35 centers, with 53 beds. Two months ago, only 13 states could test for Ebola. Today, 42 laboratories in 36 states can test for it. The success of the first-phase clinical trial here opened the door to much larger clinical trials in West Africa.

In Liberia, Mr. Obama said, 3,000 American service members built and opened three Ebola treatment centers and a hospital, which discharged its first two patients, free of the virus, late last month. Troops also worked with Liberians to make burial practices safer. As a result, he said, the overall infection rate in the country has declined.

Still, Mr. Obama tried to keep a sense of crisis. The outbreak continues to spread in Sierra Leone, where Britain is coordinating relief efforts, and cases have been reported in other West African countries, like Mali. As long as the virus is not eradicated at its source, he said, the United States could be susceptible to isolated cases.

“The fight is not even close to being over,” he said.
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Ebola-stricken nations need $700 mln to rebuild healthcare

Ebola-stricken nations need $700 mln to rebuild healthcare | Healthcare and Technology news |

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone need a further $696 million in donor funding to rebuild their battered health services over the next two years in the wake of the deadly Ebola epidemic, senior World Health Organization (WHO) officials said on Monday.

WHO Assistant Director General for Health Systems and Innovation Marie-Paule Kieny said that donors had pledged $1.4 billion of an estimated $2.1 billion required by the three countries before December 2017.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will host an international Ebola recovery conference in New York on Friday to raise additional funds for reconstruction.

More than 500 healthcare staff are among the over 11,200 people killed in West Africa by the worst recorded outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever, which erupted in Guinea in December 2013 and continues to claim lives.

"Full recovery in the three countries will not happen if we don't strengthen the health system," Kieny told a conference call with journalists. She said additional funding would also be required after 2017.

Even before Ebola struck, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone had some of the poorest healthcare systems in the world, but the damage inflicted by the outbreak has left them more vulnerable than ever, officials say.

In Guinea, WHO officials have reported a drastic increase in deaths from malaria and measles. Before the crisis, the country's annual healthcare spending stood at just $7 per person in 2013, one of the lowest rates in the world.

Pre-Ebola healthcare expenditure in Liberia and Sierra Leone was little better at $14 and $11 per person respectively, well below the WHO's recommended minimum of $84 per person per year.

The re-emergence of Ebola in Liberia last week, nearly two months after it was declared free of the virus, has stoked fears that it may take longer than expected to defeat the epidemic.

Kieny said it was too soon to say how the three new cases in Liberia - one of whom has died - became infected. Tests are being carried out by the Liberian government and international health agencies.

The European Union on Monday approved 1.15 billion euros in aid for West Africa through to 2020, nearly doubling its previous commitment to a region that is a major source of migrants seeking to enter Europe.

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Emergency responders investigating possible Ebola case in Virginia

Emergency responders investigating possible Ebola case in Virginia | Healthcare and Technology news |

Medics, firefighters and a hazardous materials team investigated a possible case of the deadly Ebola virus in a Virginia suburb close to Washington, D.C., on Thursday, local media reported.

No definitive diagnosis has been made at this point, according to local outlet The local emergency department for Clarendon typically sends Ebola responders when a sick person has a travel history and symptoms consistent with the virus, it said, adding that the sickness is unlikely to be Ebola.

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Monitoring for Those Exposed to New York Ebola Patient Ends

Monitoring for Those Exposed to New York Ebola Patient Ends | Healthcare and Technology news |

The monitoring period for the last of the health care workers exposed to Dr. Craig Spencer, who was hospitalized for Ebola in New York, ended on Tuesday, bringing to a close an uneasy period in the city’s health history.

During nearly three weeks at Bellevue Hospital Center, the public hospital designated an Ebola treatment center for the city, Dr. Spencer was cared for by 114 different workers, including doctors, nurses and paramedics, officials said on Tuesday. He has been the only Ebola patient in the city.

All of those workers had to be monitored for signs of the virus for 21 days after their last contact with Dr. Spencer, the maximum documented incubation period. Dr. Spencer, a volunteer with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, arrived at Bellevue on Oct. 23. He was kept in isolation and treated with plasma from an Ebola survivor, an experimental drug and fluid maintenance. He returned to his apartment, in Hamilton Heights, Manhattan, on Nov. 11, after being found to be free of Ebola.

Some Bellevue workers said they had felt stigmatized — even by some co-workers, who feared contagion. So far, no one else in New York has been found to have Ebola. But the city health department continues to monitor travelers for three weeks after they arrive from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa; as of Tuesday, 222 people were being monitored.

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