The Ebola crisis is unlikely to die down as the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed on Wednesday that 13,703 people have been infected since March, while vaccine front shows that it will be delayed by 5 more years, according to an Israel scientist.
WHO said 13,676 cases were reported from three West African countries– 6,535 cases were registered in Liberia, 5,235 in Sierra Leone and 1,906 in Guinea, while the number of deaths has not yet been completed and the final figure will be published in the next few hours.
The organisation’s Assistant Director-General Bruce Aylward said in a press conference that “probably the death toll has exceeded 5,000.”
Meanwhile, dashing off hopes of a vaccine, Leslie Lobel, a virologist at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University, whose team has isolated antibodies from survivors, says an effective “global vaccine” will be available in five years as there are too many different strains of the virus.
His contention puts the WHO hopes to have the vaccine ready in early 2015 for use in Africa to be too unrealistic. “We cannot produce cures in that accelerated manner. It is simply not realistic, no matter how much money is invested,” he said.
The US Army currently has an active vaccine available, but Lobel’s goal is to create anti-bodies from the human immune system, which would make fighting the virus faster and more effective.
Educated at Columbia University, Lobel emigrated to Israel in 2003, and he is the researcher on Ebola outside the US and his funding is made by the US Army, the Pentagon and the European Union, not Israel.
“The world has been blind for 40 years,” he says, explaining that he became interested in Ebola as it has a very high mortality rate of 70 percent and “if I develop a vaccine I would be saving lives”.