Peace Corps leaves West Africa as Ebola outbreak expands

July 31, 2014

The US Peace Corps announced on Wednesday that it was removing its 340 volunteers from West Africa due to recent Ebola outbreak, while the federal government is being urged to fast-track a new a drug that could possibly stave off a global pandemic.

According to Reuters, 130 volunteers will leave Sierra Leone, while another 108 and 102 will depart Liberia and Guinea, respectively. The Peace Corps blamed the virus’ continued spread for the decision.

Meanwhile, the US State Department confirmed one American citizen has died from the virus – which triggers diarrhea and vomiting before causing internal and external bleeding. Two other aid workers have been infected and are in serious condition.

As RT reported on Tuesday, Sierra Leone’s only specialist on Ebola has also died, not even one week after being diagnosed with the virus. The current fatality rate stands at 60%, which is lower than the 90% rate typically associated with the disease.

As the highly contagious virus continues to raise concern across the world, activists have started a petition on pushing the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to speed up the authorization of new medication that could potentially stop the virus in its tracks. There’s currently no cure for Ebola, but several drugs and vaccines are currently being tested.

“One of the most promising is TKM-Ebola manufactured by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals,” the petition states. “This drug has been shown to be highly effective in killing the virus in primates and Phase 1 clinical trials to assess its safety in humans were started earlier this year.”

The petition points to the fact that there’s been one confirmed case of the disease being transferred via air travel – from Liberia to Nigeria – and suggests the impending shadow of a pandemic makes fast-tracking the drug’s approval necessary.

“In view of this it’s imperative that the development of these drugs be fast-tracked by the FDA and the first step should be releasing the hold on TKM-Ebola. There is a precedent for fast tracking anti-Ebola drugs in emergency cases as happened last year when a researcher was exposed to the virus and received an experimental vaccine.” Read more.

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