By Mick Krever, CNN
Despite worrying developments about the spread of Ebola internationally and devastating mortality in West Africa, the epidemic could be “under control” by the end of the year, the U.N. Ebola envoy, Dr. David Nabarro, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.
Owing to an “extraordinary and totally unprecedented response” by the international community, the rate at which Ebola cases are increasing could be slowed, he said, by the end of December – “bend[ing] the epidemic curve down.”
“At the moment, the outbreak curve is increasing exponentially. That means we’re doubling every three to four weeks.”
“Being fully controlled is when transmission completely stops, and that will take a bit more time, after the end of this year.”
“We do need to make sure that we can get all the resources in place in time to support the governments with their response. And if anything gets in the way, then it may be difficult to hit that target.”
Nabarro denied that he was being overly optimistic – “I am being super realistic,” he said.
“Yes, it’s going to require an enormous, concerted, and disciplined effort to do it, but I think also my judgment is realistic in terms of time.”
Many have criticized the international response as being too slow and too little; Nabarro disagreed.
“Some countries like the United States and United Kingdom are bringing in large numbers of people – both skilled doctors and nurses, but also people to help with logistics and emergency management. And they’re also providing large amounts of money.”
“Other countries are coming up with similar big contributions. In some cases like Cuba, large numbers of doctors and nurses as well. It’s with this very intensive support that I believe it will be possible to get ahead of the outbreak.”
This week saw the first confirmed case of a person contracting Ebola in the United States. More than 4,000 people have died during this outbreak, the World Health Organization says – almost all of them in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
Some in the United States have been calling for travel bans to and from the worst-affected West African countries, but Nabarro agreed with the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in saying that that was not a good idea.
People will travel no matter what, he said, and in particular when they are concerned about a disease like Ebola.
“If you tried to have a blanket ban, our experience is it doesn’t work. All that happens is people try to get around it, they conceal their movements, they conceal their history, and that can actually create a much greater likelihood of going underground and diseases that go underground, they’re hard to control.”