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Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Thomas Frieden warned that the Ebola epidemic which has spread throughout Western AFRICA is "spiraling out of control," in an interview that was broadcast live today, Sept. 2, 2014, on CBS THIS MORNING (7:00-9:00 AM) on the CBS Television Network.
Frieden, who just returned from a trip to the affected region, told co-hosts CHARLIE ROSE and Norah O'Donnell that the situation is "horrific," and that "it's going to get worse in the very near future."
While vaccines and other treatments may eventually become available, Frieden told CBS THIS MORNING that we can't count on that possibility as a solution. "The epidemic is moving faster than we are," Frieden said, adding that the window of opportunity to tamp down the disease is rapidly closing.
Excerpts of the interview are below.
NORAH O'DONNELL: The Ebola epidemic is spiraling upwards - that's what the Director for the Centers for Disease Control will tell Washington tomorrow. Dr. Tom Frieden is just back from a tour of the affected West African nations. He joins us from the CDC headquarters in Atlanta. Doctor, good morning. So just how grave is this situation?
DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: It is the world's first Ebola epidemic, and it's spiraling out of control. It's bad now, and it's going to get worse in the very near future. There is still a window of opportunity to tamp it down, but that window is closing. We really have to act now.
CHARLIE ROSE: So what do we need to do now?
FRIEDEN: Now we need to support countries with resources, with technical experts and with cooperation. Too many places are sealing off these countries. If we do that, paradoxically, it's going to reduce safety everywhere else. Whether we like it or not, we're all connected, and it's in our interest to help them tamp this down and control it.
O'DONNELL: Doctor, you were there in the trenches meeting with some of the patients, the victims. What was it like and what did you learn?
FRIEDEN: It's really horrific. I spoke with a young woman, 22-year-old, fourth-year student of English, and her sister-in-law came in, died from Ebola, she held the 10-year-old niece in her hands, that's how she got Ebola. She and many of her family members went to the treatment unit and she watched her brother die horribly next to her, feeling totally powerless, unable to help him, and terrified the same thing would happen to her. It's a horrific situation, but the treatment centers, when they're there, are increasing survival rates. We really can make a difference.
ROSE: And where are we in terms of a vaccine?
FRIEDEN: Vaccines and treatments may come along, but right now what we have are tried-and-true methods that we have to scale up that have worked in prior outbreaks, but we're not getting to scale. The epidemic is going faster than we are, so we need to scale up our response. We can hope for new tools and maybe they'll come, but we can't count on them.
Watch the appearance below:
Chris Licht is the Vice President of Programming, CBS News, and Executive Producer of CBS THIS MORNING.