• Peter Piot was part of a team that discovered Ebola virus in 1976 
  • Says WHO knew of outbreak for two months before declaring emergency
  • Professor Piot said ‘there’s no excuse’ for WHO ‘wasting precious time’
  • Ebola has now claimed 5,987 lives in West Africa, and 15 in other countries

Peter Piot says it took '1,000 dead Africans' for the WHO to declare the Ebola outbreak an emergency

Peter Piot says it took ‘1,000 dead Africans’ for the WHO to declare the Ebola outbreak an emergency

 

The scientist who discovered Ebola has slammed the World Health Organisation for taking too long to declare state of emergency over the recent outbreak in West Africa.

 

Peter Piot said it took ‘1,000 dead Africans’ before the WHO took the Ebola outbreak seriously, wasting precious time before acting appropriately.

 

The Belgian microbiologist say that although the WHO knew about the outbreak three months after it started, it took them a further two months to declare a state of emergency.

 

Professor Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, was part of a team that discovered the Ebola virus in north west Zaire in 1976.

 

‘It took three months for the WHO to find out there was an Ebola outbreak, that I understand. Guinea had a poor laboratory infrastructure,’ he said in an interview with Talk to Al Jazeera, due to be aired on Saturday.

 

‘I have much more of a problem with the fact that it took five months for WHO, for the international health regulations committee, for that’s what it is, to declare this a state of emergency.

 

‘It took 1,000 dead Africans and two Americans who were repatriated to the US because they were infected.

 

‘There’s no excuse for that. It took too long; we wasted too much precious time.’

Having waited too long to act, he believes the international community has then over-reacted in unhelpful ways.

He added: ‘There is an epidemic of Ebola in West Africa and then there is a second epidemic, an epidemic of mass hysteria that we saw particularly in North America. It was really out of proportion with the issue.

Tragedy: The Ebola epidemic, the worst since the virus was first discovered in 1976, has now claimed 5,987 lives in West Africa, and 15 in other countries

Tragedy: The Ebola epidemic, the worst since the virus was first discovered in 1976, has now claimed 5,987 lives in West Africa, and 15 in other countries

Critique: Professor Piot,  who was part of a team that discovered the Ebola virus in north west Zaire in 1976, said 'there's no excuse' for the length of time it took the WHO to act, and that they 'wasted precious time'

Critique: Professor Piot,  who was part of a team that discovered the Ebola virus in north west Zaire in 1976, said ‘there’s no excuse’ for the length of time it took the WHO to act, and that they ‘wasted precious time’


Having waited too long to act, he believes the international community has then over-reacted in unhelpful ways.

 

He added: ‘There is an epidemic of Ebola in West Africa and then there is a second epidemic, an epidemic of mass hysteria that we saw particularly in North America. It was really out of proportion with the issue.

 

Tragedy: The Ebola epidemic, the worst since the virus was first discovered in 1976, has now claimed 5,987 lives in West Africa, and 15 in other countries

 

Critique: Professor Piot,  who was part of a team that discovered the Ebola virus in north west Zaire in 1976, said 'there's no excuse' for the length of time it took the WHO to act, and that they 'wasted precious time'

 

 

 

In October, the professor warned that the Ebola crisis had spiralled ‘out of control

 

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