Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), updated the House Energy and Commerce Committee's subcommittee on health about his agency's efforts to fight Ebola on Wednesday.
The hearing focused on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's request for $6.18 billion in additional funding to support domestic and international efforts to fight Ebola.
Fauci's testimony summarized the NIAID's efforts in curbing the current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. He stated that it is the worst epidemic since the disease was discovered in 1976.
As of Nov. 11, 14,413 people had been infected and there were 5,177 reported fatalities. A traveler from Liberia was infected and the disease spread to two nurses in Dallas who treated him, thus raising concerns about global bio-security.
The NIAID is working with pharmaceutical companies to produce potential countermeasures against Ebola. There are no approved compounds that directly impact Ebola, limiting treatment to management of fluid loss. Major symptoms of Ebola are vomiting, diarrhea, and internal and external bleeding.
Fauci stressed that there is a need for increased research and development in countermeasures, especially vaccines.
As a move of urgency, drugs used to treat other diseases are also currently being researched in how they can help treat the virus. While research is in the early stages, there have been initial positive results with some compounds in animal models.