Budget cuts not to blame for lack Ebola vaccine, Fauci says

Budget cuts aren’t the reason the U.S. has not developed a vaccine for Ebola, according to a top official at the National Institutes of Health.

While the NIH has “had constraints” because of federal funding, researchers would not necessarily have developed a vaccine with more money, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases head Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

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“You can’t say that,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“I don’t think you can say we would or would not have that. Everything has slowed down, but I would not make that statement” that higher funding would have led to a vaccine by now, he added.

The comments come in opposition to Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the NIH.

Collins told The Huffington Post this month that lower spending had slowed down development on multiple areas.

"NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001,” he said. “It's not like we suddenly woke up and thought, 'Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here.’ ”

"Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would've gone through clinical trials and would have been ready,” he added.

The NIH is the world’s largest funder of medical research, but the budget has been squeezed in recent years and especially tightened under the across-the-board spending cuts imposed by sequestration.