Ebola czar: Mishandling of samples ‘unacceptable’

Ebola czar Ron Klain on Sunday defended the Centers for Disease Control’s response to the Ebola crisis, even as he criticized this week’s mishandling of a virus sample that exposed a technician to the disease.

“It’s obviously unacceptable to have any mishandling of Ebola materials,” Klain said on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” where he hailed the CDC’s efforts to fight Ebola in the United States and called the agency a national treasure.

Klain, the U.S. Ebola response coordinator who was appointed by President Obama earlier this year, said the CDC was reviewing this week’s incident and would have a full report ready within weeks.

He also said it was important to put things in perspective.

“There was no risk to the public, no risk to the CDC campus generally,” he said. “Only one technician was exposed. So far, she’s showing no signs of having the disease.”

The CDC on Thursday said a technician was exposed to the disease after a plate with material from an Ebola experiment was sent from a lab to the CDC’s main offices.

There have been no new cases of Ebola in the United States for months, and there are some signs that the breakout of the disease in West Africa is coming under control.

Klain said there has been a “lot of progress” in Liberia but there is work to do in Sierra Leone. Still, he said that those fighting the disease may be “nearing a pivot point.”