The Obama administration asked Congress on Wednesday to approve nearly $6.2 billion in emergency funding to combat the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa and prevent any further cases in the United States.
Many of the front-line agencies that are fighting to contain Ebola have not received fresh funding to combat the virus since the outbreak reached historic levels.
Approximately $1.8 billion of the requested funding would be designated for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with $315 million reserved for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) would receive nearly $2 billion in fresh funding, while the State Department and the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Project Agency would receive $127 million and $112 million, respectively.
More than $4.5 billion of the request would be designated as emergency spending, meaning it could be approved without identifying corresponding cuts in the budget. The remaining $1.5 billion would be placed in a contingency fund and split equally between HHS and USAID.
The emergency funding request may face difficulties in Congress, particularly from conservatives who are opposed to increased spending and emboldened by the results of Tuesday's midterm elections.
In September, a continuing resolution that was enacted into law provided $88 million for the CDC's on-the-ground Ebola response. The funding was also shared with the Biological Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to speed the development and manufacturing of life-saving Ebola vaccines and drugs.
According to Robin Robinson, director of BARDA and deputy assistant secretary for HHS Preparedness and Response, some of the most promising treatment candidates include GlaxoSmithKline's cAd3 EBOV vaccine, Newlink Genetics' rVSV?G EBOV vaccine, Johnson & Johnson/Bavarian Nordic's AdVac/MVA EBOV vaccine, Profectus' rVSVN4CT1 EBOV vaccine and a nasal-spray vaccine developed by scientists at The University of Texas at Austin's College of Pharmacy.
There are also a number of promising drugs in development, including Mapp's ZMapp, Tekmira's TKM100802, BioCryst's BCX4430, Chemirix's Brincidofovir/CMX001, Fujifulm/Medivector's Favipiravir/T705 and Sarepota's AV1-6002.
More than 13,000 people have contracted the Ebola virus during the current outbreak, with 4,818 reported deaths, according to recently released figures from the World Health Organization. Studies conducted by the Department of Homeland Security have also pointed to the virus' potential for use as a bioterrorism weapon.