Alexander: We Must Take Deadly, Dangerous Threat of Ebola as Seriously as ISIL

Pledges support for a more “urgent response to one of the most explosive epidemics in modern times”

Posted on September 15, 2014

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“There is no known cure. Half of those who get sick die. Each sick person could put 20 or more other people at risk, including caregivers, friends, or family.” – Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 – Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said today that the nation’s leaders “must take the deadly, dangerous threat of Ebola as seriously as they take ISIL.” Alexander said the spread of the disease requires a more urgent response from the United States and other countries.

“This is one of the most explosive, dangerous, deadly epidemics in modern times. The nations of the world know what it will take to reduce the number of deaths from this epidemic, and that it will require an immediate and huge response,” Alexander said. “There is no known cure. Half of those who get sick die. Each sick person could put 20 or more other people at risk, including caregivers, friends, or family.”

Alexander, who is the senior Republican on the Senate’s health committee, which is holding a hearing on the epidemic with the Appropriations committee Tuesday, said, “We need to act now and do all that we can to combat this disease. Ebola is not like the flu. It is only spread by bodily fluids, often contracted by caring for someone who is sick or through burial practices.”

In order to control the epidemic, the senator said he would support the administration’s request for $30 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and $58 million for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in the continuing resolution to be passed this week. These funds will allow BARDA to accelerate research and development of a potential drug to treat Ebola and vaccines to prevent it. Alexander also supports the Defense Department’s request to reprogram $500 million to help with the Ebola response.

“This is an instance where we should be running toward the burning flames with our fireproof suits on,” Alexander said. “This is an emergency. We need to recognize it, and we need to find and work with other countries in the world that recognize it.”

Alexander said that in briefings and conversations on Thursday, he had pledged his full support to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden and United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power, who is working to enlist other countries in an effort to control the Ebola epidemic.

As Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Alexander also said he would perform rigorous oversight on the use of those dollars and the efforts made to combat the epidemic.

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