President Barack Obama visited the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Dec. 2 to congratulate scientists for developing a potential vaccine against Ebola.
Obama spent approximately 90 minutes on the research campus, including attending briefings and visiting two senior investigators and their labs at the Vaccine Research Center.
In a 22-minute speech, the president made it clear that he believes scientific research is one of the best attributes of the United States as the world responds to global health threats.
“We are going to be guided by the science—not by speculation, not by fear, not by rumor, not by panic—by science,” Obama said.
During his speech, Obama thanked the researchers at NIH and its collaborators for developing what may be the first Ebola vaccine. The vaccine finished its phase I clinical trials the week before Obama's visit.
“No potential Ebola vaccine has ever made it this far,” Obama said.
Obama thanked the many NIH staff members who have volunteered in serving West Africa and Ebola patients in various ways.
“You reminded the world that it is possible to treat Ebola patients effectively and safely without endangering yourselves or others,” Obama said. “One of the great virtues of what you’ve done here at NIH is reminded people that science matters and that science works. It’s not always going to be immediate…there are going to be some trials and there are going to be some errors and false starts and blind alleys, but the basic concept of science—and making judgments on the basis of evidence—that’s what’s most needed during difficult, challenging moments like the ones that we had this summer and that we continue to have in West Africa.”
Obama highlighted other progress that has been made in the fight against Ebola, including that now 36 states can test for Ebola (previously that number rested at 13), and 35 facilities now can treat Ebola patients (versus the previous three).
The president also used his visit as an opportunity to request more funds from Congress to support the fight against Ebola.