President Barack Obama is pressing Congress to pass his $6.2 billion request in emergency funding to combat Ebola, before it leaves for the year, declaring it would be “a good Christmas present to the American people and the world.”
“We cannot beat Ebola without funding,” Obama said Tuesday at the National Institutes of Health. “If we want other countries to step up, we must lead the way.
President Barack Obama listens to an explanation by Dr. Nancy Sullivan as he tours the vaccine research center at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on December 2, 2014 in Bethesda, Maryland. The NIH recently published results from phase 1 clinical trials of an Ebola vaccine candidate. (AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN)
The $6.2 billion would go toward fighting Ebola in West Africa, establishing more Ebola treatment centers and assessment hospitals and advance the development of vaccines.
Obama said the United States was able to galvanize about $2 billion in international commitments since mid-September.
“This truly has to be a global effort, but that money would not be there if not for U.S. leadership,” Obama continued.
Obama toured the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health to congratulate Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Tony Fauci on the first published results from Phase 1 clinical trials of an Ebola vaccine candidate. This clears the way for large scale clinical trials in West Africa in the weeks ahead, according to the White House.
The disease had ravaged much of West Africa since August, killing thousands. Obama again said the disease must be fought in West Africa to prevent future isolated cased in the United States.
Obama said that helping to fight the disease is a test of the national character. Further, he said that the funding request “can’t get caught up in normal politics.”
“We need to extinguish this disease,” Obama said. “It is not something we can just manage. We need to stamp it out.”
Obama was briefed earlier Tuesday by White House Ebola Response Coordinator Ron Klain.
The United States has expanded the network of hospitals to deal with Ebola from just eight hospitals to currently 53 beds in 35 designated treatment centers across the country. This happened after the Department of Health and Human Services worked with several states.
The testing capacity has gone from 13 labs in August to 42 labs in 36 states currently.