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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Task force members speak on infectious diseases, vaccines

Shelby Knowles — THE BATTALION
Dr. Giroir discusses why Ebola broke out on a pandemic level in West Africa. 
Shelby Knowles — THE BATTALION Dr. Giroir discusses why Ebola broke out on a pandemic level in West Africa. 

In a panel held Wednesday evening titled “Ebola: The Nature of the Epidemic,” Dr. Brett Giroir and Dr. Peter J. Hoetz, spoke on how globalization is affecting human interaction with infectious diseases, as well as the role Texas A&M is playing in fighting these diseases.
Giroir, Chief Executive Officer of the Texas A&M Health Science Center, said infectious diseases are one of the greatest challenges of the human species. Giroir said fighting these diseases is going to be even more important for the younger generations because of globalization.
“Anything that happens in the middle of Africa can be in the middle of DFW in 24 hours,” Giroir said. “It’s really going to affect the world as you know it.”
Hoetz, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said the tragedy of Ebola was that no vaccines existed to combat the outbreak.
“The problem with Ebola is that we had no vaccines,” Hoetz said. “If we had had a vaccine for the Ebola outbreak, things could have gone very, very different… the technology was there but no one wanted to develop it into a vaccine.”
Giroir said there are three national centers in the country that are responsible for bio security response and vaccine preparedness response.
“Two are run by major global companies and only one is run a university and that’s here,” Giroir said
Giroir said Texas A&M is to be responsible for providing a large portion of the vaccines for infectious diseases in the near future.
“We say we’re going to put a little Aggie in everyone’s arm,” Giroir said. “By 2019, if there is a pandemic, we at A&M are responsible for providing the first 50 million doses of vaccine to the U.S. population. This is a tremendous national responsibility that we’ve taken on. We have also received six task orders, two for anthrax and four for Ebola that we’re working on now to make new therapies and vaccines.”
Haley Mathews, Wiley symposium coordinator and political science senior, said Wiley was lucky to get members of former Gov. Perry’s Texas Task Force for Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response.
“We were focused on people from the Task Force that had firsthand experience with this, we were just really lucky to score [Hoetz and Giroir] because Dr. Giroir was the director.”
Giroir said there are many different ways Aggies can be involved in fighting Ebola.
“I just want everybody to know that we are right in the middle of this and just as Aggies have been called to serve and help the country and the world, that we’re very involved in this now,” Giroir said.

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