The European Union has decided to allocate €24.4 million for the research designed to find a vaccine and treatments against the deadly Ebola disease. The news comes after Spain announced that Teresa Romero, the first person to have contracted Ebola outside of Africa, has been cured after a 16-day battle for survival. Nevertheless, deaths from the disease continue to rise in Africa’s worst affected countries. The latest figures show almost 4,900 dead and 10,000 cases in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. The EU money will therefore be fast-tracked “in order to start work as soon as possible”.
The outgoing EU Commission chief, Jose Manuel Barroso, commented that “we’re in a race against time on Ebola and we must address both the emergency situation and at the same time have a long term response”. He also confirmed that the Commission was already working with the research industry to develop vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics for the deadly disease. So far, the block of 28 countries has provided humanitarian and other aid worth €180 million to help fight Ebola, which is believed to start producing 10,000 cases a week with a death rate of about 70 percent.
At the same time, the EU is providing medical staff and facilities on the ground. The fight against the disease is also expected to be a major talking point at the EU leaders’ summit that is finishing in Brussels today (October 24). An available draft summit communique informed that the EU would appoint an “Ebola coordinator” to facilitate cooperation between the EU, member states, and international organizations. The main coordinator of the international efforts to control Ebola is the World Health Organization (WHO). While there is currently neither vaccine, nor cure, but only therapeutic treatments, hopes still persist that experimental vaccines, which are currently being tested, will be available already next year.