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University Hospitals of Geneva. Still photo of a HUG film

University Hospitals of Geneva. Still photo of a HUG film

CUBA STANDARD — A Cuban doctor who contracted Ebola will be transferred for treatment in Switzerland, the Cuban health ministry said in a statement published by official media.

In the biggest commitment of personnel of any nation, Cuba has sent 165 medics to West Africa — most of them in Sierra Leone — and plans for a total deployment of 463; thousands more Cubans have volunteered, according to Cuban officials.

Dr. Félix Báez Sarría is currently being treated by British doctors at the Kerry Town facility for UN personnel in Sierra Leone, but the United Nations’ World Health Organization is flying him to Switzerland where he will be treated at the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG).

The hospital in Geneva is “experienced in the treatment and management of infectious cases of high transmissibility,” Cuban media said. Báez, an internist who tested positive Nov. 17 after he came down with a fever, is “without complications”, for now.

On Nov. 6, the Swiss regulatory authority for therapeutic products approved a second trial in Switzerland of an experimental Ebola vaccine led by the hospital in Geneva. As part of a global series of trials coordinated by the WHO, the Canadian-developed VSV-ZEBOV vaccine will be tested on 115 healthy volunteers in Geneva, some of whom will be deployed to West Africa as health care staff. First results of the trials are expected in December.

If judged safe, larger scale trials will be taken to African countries as early as January 2015.

The WHO believes just Sierra Leone will need around 10,000 healthcare workers. NGO Médecins sans Frontières, which has led efforts on the ground from the beginning, has some 250 staff on the ground. The second-largest government deployment of medical personnel is from the African Union, which dispatched some 100 health workers.

The United States government has agreed to spend $400 million on building at least a dozen 100-bed field hospitals, using some 4,000 soldiers, and has deployed 65 health officials to Liberia.

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