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Experimental Medicine in a Time of Ebola

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As the deadly outbreak of Ebola in West Africa continues to claim lives, Wellcome Trust director Dr Jeremy Farrar calls for Africans to be given access to experimental Ebola medication. This joint statement with Prof David Heymann, head of the Chatham House Centre on Global Health Security, and Prof Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, expresses the urgent need for action.

A virologist carrying out mouse experiments in a lab in Hamburg five years ago accidentally pricked her finger. The syringe contained the Zaire Ebola virus, the same strain wreaking havoc today in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. There is no approved treatment or vaccine for Ebola, or even one that has passed the first phase of safety trials in human volunteers. Yet unlike those exposed to Ebola in West Africa recently, the Hamburg virologist was quickly offered an experimental vaccine.

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