Ebola outbreak could affect 20,000 people before it’s over

BY Ayan Sheikh and Sarah McHaney  August 28, 2014 at 2:06 PM EDT

This undated handout photo provided by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and GlaxoSmithKline (NIAID/GSK) shows a vaccine candidate, in a vial, that will be used in the upcoming human Ebola trials. Photo from GlaxoSmithKline

This undated handout photo provided by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and GlaxoSmithKline (NIAID/GSK) shows a vaccine candidate, in a vial, that will be used in the upcoming human Ebola trials. Photo from GlaxoSmithKline

It will take six to nine months to stop the Ebola outbreak in West Africa according to a road map released today by the World Health Organization. During those months more than 20,000 people may become infected with the disease.

Controlling the epidemic could cost $490 million and will need the help of thousands of local health workers and hundreds of international experts.

So far, 1,552 people had been confirmed dead in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria, while 3,062 had been infected. Almost 40 percent of all the cases have been reported in the past three weeks which shows the virus is accelerating.

Health officials in Nigeria confirmed the country’s sixth Ebola related death on Thursday. The victim died in the southeastern oil city of Port Harcourt, located just outside of Lagos — Nigeria’s main international transit hub. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation.

In response to the epidemic, the U.S. announced that they will begin testing Ebola vaccines on humans next week — much sooner than previously planned.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH said the Ebola outbreak “is a public health emergency that demands an all-hands-on-deck response.”

He added that results from this initial round of testing won’t be available until the end of the year, and the success of the vaccine was not guaranteed.

Health care workers will be the first to take the vaccine if it works, given the fact that more than 240 workers have contracted the virus, so far. However, Fauci said that residents in affected areas could be eligible to receive the vaccine.

Dr. Anthony Fauci will be on PBS NewsHour tonight to discuss the upcoming trials.