by Eric Bradner, CNN
Washington: White House Ebola czar Ron Klain on Tuesday downplayed the chances of Ebola being used as a biological weapon after a scare in New Zealand.
Klain said he was briefed Tuesday after a small vial supposedly sent by jihadis and containing Ebola was sent to the offices of the New Zealand Herald newspaper. The newspaper sent the vial to Australia for testing.
“Based on our best information, I think the odds are high that this turns out to be a hoax,” Klain said on CNN’s “The Lead” with Jake Tapper.
He said U.S. officials are “always watching intelligence traffic and other indicators” to see if terror groups are using Ebola or other diseases as biological weapons, but that “we’re not aware of any credible threat” and that the odds of that happening are low.
Klain touted the overall U.S. response to Ebola cases here and to the outbreak in West Africa, saying health officials have “tried to learn the lessons from Dallas,” where the first case was diagnosed in the United States, by increasing training, preparation and protective gear at health facilities nationwide.
“What we’ve shown now is that we can successfully identify and isolate an Ebola patient, we can make sure he doesn’t infect other people, we can treat him, and we can send him home safely,” he said.
When President Barack Obama tapped Klain as his Ebola response coordinator, Republican lawmakers howled that the long-time political operative — Klain served as Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff and helped Obama with debate preparation during his re-election campaign — isn’t a medical professional.
But Klain told Tapper on Tuesday that he isn’t serving in a role that requires a medical background.
“My role isn’t to give medical advice, it’s to coordinate this massive response that President Obama has marshaled here at home and in Africa,” Klain said.