Bio-threat specialist: Fighting 'worst' Ebola epidemic ever requires vigilance

Dr. Robin Robinson urged a congressional panel to continue vigilant efforts against Ebola in Africa. | U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

An official from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services urged Congressional members Wednesday to continue its fight against Ebola in West Africa.

Dr. Robin Robinson, director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and deputy assistant secretary to the assistant secretary for preparedness and response for the Department of Health and Human Services, said Wednesday in a hearing before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's subcommittee on health.

Robinson said the Ebola virus is both a bio-threat and “an emerging infectious disease.”

“The current Ebola epidemic is the worst on record,” Robinson said. “As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated, we do not view Ebola as a significant public health threat to the United States; however, the best way to continue to protect our country from any domestic threat posed by Ebola is to take action to address the epidemic in West Africa with robust infection-control measures and possibly vaccination."

Robinson said BARDA successfully managed the advanced development of more than 150 medical countermeasures (MCM) for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons of terror since 2006.

"Over the last decade, the Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise has supported basic research and early-stage development of numerous Ebola and Marburg virus MCM candidates,” he said.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, said the threat of an outbreak is real and extends beyond West Africa.

“We need to confirm that the United States is, in fact, taking every precaution and fully preparing our health care system for additional cases here at home,” he said. “Equally as important is stopping the spread of this horrific virus in West Africa and finding effective vaccines, diagnostics and treatments for Ebola, as well as the thousands of other diseases that lack remedies.”

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Biomedical Advanced Researc and Development Authority (BARDA) 200 Independence Ave SW Washington, DC 20201

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