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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will donate $50 million to fight the spread of Ebola in West Africa, the organization announced in a press release on Wednesday.

The foundation will immediately transfer a portion of the funds to the United Nations as well as other international health organizations involved in combating the disease. According numbers released by the World Health Organization on Monday the virus has already claimed 2,296 lives, primarily in the West African countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

"It's become clear to us over the last [few] days that what was once an outbreak of Ebola is truly an epidemic," Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann told CNN. "[We] felt that rapid, flexible money would make a difference," she added.

In addition to providing immediate support such the purchase of medical supplies, part of the $50 million commitment will go towards addressing longer term issues.

"[We] want to accelerate the development of treatments, vaccines and diagnostics that can help end this epidemic and prevent future outbreaks," Desmond-Hellmann said.

Last week, World Health Organization officials were in Washington D.C. asking the State Department and the Food and Drug Administration to help them raise $600 million in additional funds to combat the virus in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

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