Ebola outbreak: Government begs scientists to come up with ideas on beating deadly virus

 

Health Correspondent

The Government has made an emergency plea for scientists and researchers to bring forward ideas for combating Ebola, as the death toll from outbreak in West Africa rises to 1,350.

Research funding worth £6.5m will be made available, with grants going to experts who can provide “strong evidence and analysis” of how the disease spreads, how best to treat it, and how best to educate people about the risks.

Sierra Leone and Liberia, the two countries at the heart of the crisis, have failed to contain the spread of the virus, with experts warning that medical resources, infection control methods, and information services for people at risk have all been inadequate.

The death toll of the outbreak continues to rise on a daily basis, with the World Health Organisation confirming 106 more deaths occurring on Sunday and Monday this week alone – most of them in Liberia. The actual death toll is likely to be higher than official figures suggest. The outbreak began in Guinea six months ago, before spreading to Sierra Leone and Liberia. A small number of cases have also been recorded in Nigeria.

The UK’s new research grant, which is part funded by the Department of International Development (DFID) and medical research foundation the Wellcome Trust, comes as the aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) accused the international community of making “almost zero” contribution to the response to Ebola.

 

Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary said that new research would “help us better equip those working on the ground so they can tackle the outbreak as effectively as possible and prevent more people contracting this terrible disease.”

The UK has also pledged £5m in aid to the affected countries to combat Ebola.

Earlier this week Brice de la Vigne, operations director of MSF, called on governments around the world to do more to help end the epidemic.

Video: What is Ebola and why is such a threat?

“Globally, the response of the international community is almost zero,” he said. “Leaders in the west are talking about their own safety and doing things like closing airlines – and not helping anyone else.”

Research applications will be managed by an organisation called Enhancing Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance. Its director Jess Camburn admitted that “research might not seem like the most urgent action”, but said that health that professionals working on the ground in the affected countries were in “great need of better evidence”.

Dr Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust and a world authority on infectious diseases, said that the gravity of the Ebola epidemic required “an urgent response”.

“We believe rapid research into humanitarian interventions and therapeutics can have an impact on treatment and containment during the present outbreak,” he said. “What we learn could also change the way we approach future outbreaks, providing us with tested tools and techniques that were not available to public health authorities this time.”

A number of countries have already sent experimental drugs and vaccines into Ebola-hit areas, after receiving ethical approval for the use of medicines untested in humans.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

    Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

    Recruitment Genius: Development Scientist

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
    There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

    In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

    The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

    It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit