Tuesday, September 02, 2014

CDC & WHO Press Briefings On Ebola







Today the World Health Organization and the CDC both held press conferences (unfortunately, at the same time) on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.   I was only able to listen in on the live CDC conference, and to the last part of the the UN conference, but both carried similar messages.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is moving faster than the response currently being mounted against it.  


A concerted international effort is needed now to defeat this epidemic, with the implied threat that we either deal with it now in Africa, or we risk having to deal with it for years to come around the globe.


CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden painted a grim picture in his CDC update on Ebola outbreak in West Africa saying that epidemic was `spiraling out of control’ , but stressed there was still `small window of opportunity’  to contain it.  


A transcript, and audio file, should be posted on the CDC Media website – hopefully later today.


CDC.gov, along with FluTrackers and others tweeted the event and you can follow the press conference using the twitter hashtag #DrFriedenCDC . A few examples follow:




A word about the elephant in the room, which Dr. Frieden briefly discussed in today’s news conference; The possibility that the Ebola virus could – over time – mutate into an even more difficult to contain virus.


This is something we discussed at last week in Study: Ebola Virus Is Rapidly Evolving, and is always a concern whenever a zoonotic virus spills over into the human population.


Viruses mutate – that’s their basic mechanism of survival – but luckily over the past 40 years Ebola has tended to remain pretty stable, it doesn’t mutate as quickly as some viruses, like influneza or HIV.  

As Dr. Frieden said, the risks of seeing a dangerous mutation are probably low, but they aren’t zero.  The CDC, and other labs, will be watching for suspicious changes in the virus, but so far, there is nothing to suggest the virus has changed the way it spreads.

For brevity, individual statements by WHO Director-General Margaret Chan and the UN’s Special Coordinator on Ebola Dr. David Nabarro can be viewed on the following video links.



The entire 77  minute briefing can be viewed at:


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