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EU provides 24,4 mln euros to develop vaccine against Ebola

The research will be aimed at containing the epidemic and protecting medical personnel

BRUSSELS, October 24. /TASS/. The European Union provides 24.4 million euros for research to develop vaccine against Ebola, outgoing European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said after the first day of the EU summit.

The research will be aimed at containing the epidemic and protecting medical personnel, first of all developing vaccine, he said.

The European Union appointed a coordinator on Thursday to lead its drive to fight Ebola in West Africa following criticism that European efforts so far to contain the world's worst recorded outbreak of the disease have been inadequate.

Christos Stylianides, who takes over on November 1 as the EU's commissioner for humanitarian affairs and crisis management, will also be the 28-nation bloc's point man on Ebola.

European states have been stepping up their contributions of cash, hospitals and health workers recently after criticism by aid officials of a slow early response to an outbreak that has claimed nearly 5,000 lives, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Reuters said.

"Up until now, the response from most EU governments has been woefully inadequate," Oxfam's Natalia Alonso said last week. The aid group said on Thursday it expected to hear strong new pledges of cash from EU heads of state and guarantees to turn those pledges into cash without delay.

The EU leaders will say that a "sustained, coordinated and increased response is required to curb current trends" in the spread of infection, according to a draft statement seen by Reuters.

Most European initiatives so far to counter Ebola in West Africa have been national rather than EU efforts.

Britain has sent 750 troops to Sierra Leone to help set up treatment units and a training facility and it is providing more than 700 treatment beds in the former British colony.

France has promised to set up new treatment centres for Ebola in Guinea, once a French colony.

Smaller EU countries have said they are ready to send healthcare workers to West Africa but lack the resources to evacuate them if they caught the disease.

The EU addressed this problem this week by providing a guarantee to international health workers that they would either be flown to Europe or receive high-quality treatment on the spot if they caught the disease in West Africa.

The World Health Organization has said the death toll from the Ebola outbreak in West African has exceeded 4,800, and almost 10,000 have been infected.

A physician with Doctors Without Borders who returned to New York City from West Africa has tested positive for Ebola, the first diagnosed Ebola case in the city.

The doctor was working for the humanitarian organization in Guinea, one of three West African nations hardest hit by Ebola.

He developed a fever and gastrointestinal symptoms and notified Doctors Without Borders on Thursday morning, the organization said in a statement.

He was transported to a hospital from his Manhattan apartment by a specially trained team wearing protective gear, Reuters cited the New York City Department of Health as saying.

The first case of Ebola has been confirmed in Mali, making it the sixth West African country to be touched by the worst outbreak on record of the deadly haemorrhagic fever. The patient, a two-year-old girl, had recently arrived from neighbouring Guinea, where the outbreak began.