Ebola outbreak: British survivor William Pooley praised by Philip Hammond after flying to US to give blood in bid to help find cure

Mr Hammond said Mr Pooley's efforts were a "fantastic example" of Britain leading the way in the fight against Ebola

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Philip Hammond has praised William Pooley, the British health worker who recovered from the Ebola virus, after he was flown to the United States to give blood in the hope that a cure can be found.

Mr Pooley, who was the first Briton to contract the deadly virus, travelled to the US earlier this week as efforts to create a vaccine intensify. It is hoped that his blood may contain clues as to why his body did not succumb to the illness.

Speaking during a one-day international conference on how the world should respond to the growing crisis in Africa, Mr Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, told a press conference at Lancaster House in central London that Mr Pooley's efforts were a "fantastic example" of Britain leading the way in the fight against Ebola. 

Mr Pooley spent yesterday speaking to health workers about his experiences of fighting the virus, and today attended the conference, where he spoke "movingly" to delegates about its impact on families across Africa, Mr Hammond said.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening added: "The picture painted by William Pooley...gave us a very clear sense of what this is doing to people and families on the ground."

Speaking at the conference today, Mr Pooley told of his experience working as a nurse in Sierra Leone, where he contracted the virus.

He said: "So, my specific fear is that the horror and the misery of these deaths really fill a well of my despair.

"And I just don't know what happens if that's repeated a million times, and so I say, at all costs, we can't let that happen."

Ministers, diplomats and health officials from 20 different countries took part in the conference, which was hosted by the UK and Sierra Leone governments.

Oxfam said it was planning to triple its Ebola prevention programme in Sierra Leone, which it said would cost at least £10 million. The aim was to help 2.5 million people at risk of catching the disease, it told the conference.

More than 3,300 people are already believed to have died from Ebola, with humanitarian charity Save The Children warning last night that five new cases are being recorded in Sierra Leone every hour - a figure that may rise as the virus continues to spread.