The Ominous Math of the Ebola Epidemic Share

Joel Achenbach et al., Washington Post, October 9, 2014

When the experts describe the Ebola disaster, they do so with numbers. The statistics include not just the obvious ones, such as caseloads, deaths and the rate of infection, but also the ones that describe the speed of the global response.

Right now, the math still favors the virus.

Global health officials are looking closely at the “reproduction number,” which estimates how many people, on average, will catch the virus from each person stricken with Ebola. The epidemic will begin to decline when that number falls below one. A recent analysis estimated the number at 1.5 to 2.

The number of Ebola cases in West Africa has been doubling about every three weeks. There is little evidence so far that the epidemic is losing momentum.

“The speed at which things are moving on the ground, it’s hard for people to get their minds around. People don’t understand the concept of exponential growth,” said Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Exponential growth in the context of three weeks means: ‘If I know that X needs to be done, and I work my butt off and get it done in three weeks, it’s now half as good as it needs to be.’ ”

Frieden warned Thursday that without immediate, concerted, bold action, the Ebola virus could become a global calamity on the scale of HIV. He spoke at a gathering of global health officials and government leaders at the World Bank headquarters in Washington. The president of Guinea was at the table, and the presidents of Liberia and Sierra Leone joined by video link. Amid much bureaucratic talk and table-thumping was an emerging theme: The virus is still outpacing the efforts to contain it.

“The situation is worse than it was 12 days ago. It’s entrenched in the capitals. Seventy percent of the people [who become infected] are definitely dying from this disease, and it is accelerating in almost all settings,” Bruce Aylward, assistant director general of the World Health Organization, told the group.

Aylward had come from West Africa only hours earlier. He offered three numbers: 70, 70 and 60. To bring the epidemic under control, officials should ensure that at least 70 percent of Ebola-victim burials are conducted safely, and that at least 70 percent of infected people are in treatment, within 60 days, he said.

More numbers came from Ernest Bai Koroma, president of Sierra Leone: The country desperately needs 750 doctors, 3,000 nurses, 1,500 hygienists, counselors and nutritionists.

The numbers in this crisis are notoriously squishy, however. Epidemiological data is sketchy at best. No one really knows exactly how big the epidemic is, in part because there are areas in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea where disease detectives cannot venture because of safety concerns.

The current assumption is that for every four known Ebola cases, about six more go unreported.

{snip}

“This has been a particularly difficult outbreak because of the difficulty getting a lot of data quickly out of the countries,” said Martin Meltzer, a CDC researcher who models epidemics. “My crystal ball is painted a deep black. It’s like tracking a hurricane.”

Meltzer helped produce a report in late September that said that at current rates of infection, as many as 1.4 million people would become infected by January. That number, officials stressed, was a straight extrapolation of the explosive spread of Ebola at a time when the world had managed to mount only a feeble response. The more vigorous response underway is designed to bend that curve.

{snip}

As the number of infections increases, so does the possibility that a person with Ebola will carry it to another country. This is known as an export.

“So we had two exports in the first 2,000 patients,” Frieden said in a recent interview. “Now we’re going to have 20,000 cases, how many exports are we going to have?”

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  • Easyrhino

    Maybe this is a planned event and Alex Jones has been right all along regarding the tens of thousands of plastic coffins FEMA is stock-piling.

    • connorhus

      I am a redneck rural survival type but have never been a real conspiracy nut but this thing is really starting to look pretty fishy.

      • John

        Exactly. Doesn’t anyone remember the big flu scare a few years ago? You know, the one where the “gubbamint” was supposed to be getting the vaccines moving out to the whole population? And didn’t. I read a year or so later that the EU had designated a commission to investigate the whole affair. Their position was that big pharma had instituted a fake crisis to sell vaccines. No surprise there. Go to jimstonefreelance (dot) com for an in depth look at why this whole thing is a hoax and for what reasons. One thing Jim didn’t mention was CDC chief Frieden’s resistance to quarantine flights from the infected countries. I’m positive that if Ebola was such a crisis, then Frieden would slap down a quarantine to protect his coreligionists in a New York minute; and his homies in the press would be right behind his justifications too.

    • propagandaoftruth

      I think a revolution is closer than we realize.

      • Steven Bannister

        A revolution carried out by which side?

        • propagandaoftruth

          The one not in power.

          Starting in Europe. UKIP, FN, others not Jobbik. It begins in Western Europe I think, where cool, sophisticated heads rise to lead grassroots displaced and disparaged Folk.

          In the US it’s hard to say. More volatile here, actually. Quietly volatile, but…

          We do have guns here. Thank God. We just need a well ordered militia…

          • benvad

            We’ll have to arm and start by ridding ourselves of the Marxists.

    • brior

      World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan issued a
      statement “The outbreak spotlights the dangers of the world’s growing
      social and
      economic inequalities,” Chan added. “The rich get the best care. The
      poor
      are left to die.” … So this is the goal of the liberal Marxists?
      Infect the US so we will have to pay for a cure or vaccine? Blackmail ?
      (Pun self evident). The commies don’t realize it will kill them too.

  • connorhus

    Seriously their numbers can’t be accurate. They openly admit they have no cue how the countryside is fairing. We were seeing pictures of bodies some days that showed more than the dead they were claiming. My bet is in a few days they are going to try and catch the numbers up by claiming the exponential growth thing.

  • SentryattheGate

    When you consider that world elites want to drastically reduce population, then add the current conditions of an unenforced US border, the disease-carrying “child refugees”, the refusal to stop flights from the Ebola nations, and the Obamacare rationing coming, it looks like the perfect storm brewing! Add in the fact that many kids are not vaccinated because parents distrust vaccines (and I can’t blame them!)—or that the vaccines themselves will cause illness! Robotics are becoming so advanced that many current human-performed jobs will be replaced by machines. Another reason to keep low-skill immigrants out!

    • journey

      ~75% of this planet’s population always need someone else to take care of them. Currently, they do not hesitant to invade developed countries. So, yes reduction of population is needed.

      • SentryattheGate

        Unfortunately, as I’m sure you know, the First World has the lowest birthrates—only to have Third Worlders flood in!

        • journey

          Population control has to be imposed on third world countries. Third worlders including the blacks here expect whites to take care of them from birth to death.

          I have seen on this website that whites should increase their birth rate but that’s not realistic.

          • archer

            The birth rate in white countries has been less than replacement level for several generations, all this talk about overpopulation is pure bull, the nwo wants to flood white countries with third world people. If they were serious about overpopulation they know where the problem is and should focus on that.

          • journey

            In reality, the whites should be increasing their their birth rate as it is their gene pool that will keep pulling this planet forward. Gobally, blacks (especially), Hispanics, and certain Asian countries (India, Innodesia), need to decrease their productive rate by >60%. Unfortunately, the human pop will keep increasing for awhile because of the greater younger population pool in those poverty ridden third world countries.

            China, Japan, and Korea being more intelligent have controlled their reproductive rates. They respect and understanding the significance of the land man ratio. This is a law of nature that’s has to be respected.

          • Ultimate187

            Self imposed population limits have only worked in East Asia, specifically China and Vietnam. If limits were imposed on any other part of World like North, South or Central America or Africa, people would riot.

          • journey

            Actually, you might be surprised. Women in those third world countries do not want to be breeders. They are forced due to either/both religion and economic reasons. It is this country, the Catholic church, and hard core Muslins that are forcing women to be breeders when they do not want to be. When given the choice of being able to take birth control pills, etc., they gladly take it.

            Bill Gates Foundation is offering women/families to have choices.

            This country is just as crazy due to the religious right in forcing women in third world countries to be eternal breeders. This country tried to interfere with China’s one child rule.

          • I think it is good Japan’s population is declining. The countryside there is beautiful, but 120 million people in an area the size of California is too many. Allowing that most people anywhere live near the sea, and that Japan has two coasts compared with California’s one, that still leaves Japan with twice the coastal population density of California.

            Japan’s problem in this respect is that their population is declining so quickly that a much smaller number of workers in their productive years will have to support increasing numbers of long-lived pensioners. The good news is that in a developed information society, healthy older people can continue to work, often from home.

      • Francis Miville

        Apply the remedy you deem best to yourself first. If I were you, I would choose chastity.

        • journey

          Huh?

  • Even though it’s clear that Washington wants Ebola to spread in the USA, the question is why. Theories:
    1. Obama’s hatred of America.
    2. Desire to kill white people.
    3. Sell vaccines or cures that will soon be forthcoming.
    4. Psychopaths need no reason–joy of killing: Obama–“I’m really good at killing people.”

    American Revolution II needs to be fought and fought soon before the mass murderers in Washington have their way with us. A doubling every three weeks on Ebola patients? Millions in the US will be infected by Christmas, right? I think I did the math right in my head, assuming that we have undiagnosed cases right now..

    • Samuel Hathaway

      Factor in Ebola collapsing an already beleaguered health-care system, and America wallowing in it’s racial guilt, it’s no coincidence that our First-Mulatto-In-Chief will fit this crisis nicely into the plans for transforming America.

      Thousands more West Africans, more Ebola, more fast-track to citizenship considering the circumstances, every welfare benefit imaginable, and hundreds of thousands of Americans living in horror of getting and dying from Ebola, and B. Hussein O. got his revenge, got his transformation of the land he always hated and despised.

  • journey

    Blacks the curse of this planet. “The country desperately needs 750 doctors, 3,000 nurses, 1,500 hygienists, counselors and nutritionists.” Only can breed but can’t do much else.

  • John R

    Ebola: Nature taking it’s course and “Thinning the herd.” Seriously, did it ever occur to anyone that most of the world’s problems would solve themselves if we just secured our own border and let the rest of the world boil in it’s own stew? Most of humanity’s problems are caused by the do-gooders trying to put Western (White) standards on to inferior races of people. Leave well enough alone.

    • Periapsis

      Indeed, I think vast areas should simmer in a stew of level 4 pathogens and disintegrating corpses that knowingly or not they prepared for themselves while western nations seal themselves off from the Turd World. Breeding like rabbits, refusal to practice basic hygiene, promiscuous sex, and sheer backwardness now has the potential to kill as many people globally as a nuclear war would. It just takes one airborne virus that does not respond to ANY treatment but is lethal to 90 percent of the people it infects coupled with a long incubation period and the ability to survive for long periods outside of a host. Foreign aid has to stop, nature and the Golden Rule too must be allowed to right things without interference.

  • Anglo

    Imagine the rush to our southern border if Ebola is carried to Mexico and Central America. Not sealing our southern border and also allowing Africans into our country is insanity.

  • Tim_in_Indiana

    This ebola epidemic could end up doing far more to end Africa’s overpopulation problem than Bill Gates’ billions ever could.

    • SentryattheGate

      He was interviewed on PBS a few days ago; said he was donating $50 million to the ebola crisis. http://www.businessinsider(DOT)com/bill-gates-donates-50-million-to-the-ebola-outbreak-2014-9

      • Ultimate187

        China’s population is 1.3 billion, India has a bit less, but whatever, that adds up to 4 right?

        • OS-Q

          Hmm not arguing with your first point, but doesn’t Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh add up to a least another billion people? Plus there are millions of Chinese living abroad or as citizens of other nations, particularly in countries with a Pacific coastline.

          • Ultimate187

            The total population of those three countries is 370 million. China’s diaspora is about 40 million, but those populations are part of other countries. It’s still nowhere near the four billion that SentryattheGate is talking about. I think he just made it up.

          • OS-Q

            Thanks for the info, somehow I had the impression they were much higher

      • benvad

        That’s why their countries are more sane then ours.

  • MBlanc46

    This threatens to become a global epidemic only because our leaders refused to take the obvious step of banning travel from West Africa.

    • Ultimate187

      Our leaders both historically and presently have always been good at bringing things in from Africa. Why would they stop now?

    • America once again leads the way . . . if the democrats and progressive republicans are not removed from office . . .there will not be much left to fight for ..

  • IstvanIN

    Amazing how Obama made Carter, Johnson, Clinton and Bush II look good (or at least not as horrible).

    • benvad

      He’s absolutely Saul Alinsky’s dream for a President.

  • IstvanIN

    the Ebola virus could become a global calamity on the scale of HIV
    Not to down play HIV but just how devastating has HIV been? Have there been any population reductions? Ebola will burn itself out unless we help it spread by not taking common sense precautions, like border control.

  • The final point about 2 exports in the first 2,000 cases, though wrong if we look at the numbers, is something that needs to be considered. Off the top of my head I believe there were around 7-8,000 cases by the end of September when both Ebola in Spain and the US were reported. That means when the number of cases in West Africa reaches the one million projected there will be a potential 142 export cases. That’s dumb, simple math though. 1 mil divided by 7,000. In reality, the more people that catch this disease the number of export cases will grow exponentially. This disease mainly is hitting the poor, who don’t usually have access to international flights. As this disease begins to afflict the wealthier then we will see the spread of Ebola accelerate into other regions of the world. People with money want the best care possible. And they sure as hell aren’t going to find it in Liberia.

    Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea aren’t containing this thing. It is too late for Western medical intervention. There is no other solution but a complete regional quarantine of West Africa. Maybe even Africa itself.

  • WR_the_realist

    Africa’s population will more than double from the current 1.1 billion to 2.4 billion in the next 36 years. If one million people are killed by this epidemic (surely an extreme overestimate for what the actual toll will be) that knocks Africa’s population growth back by about half a month. Africa’s high birth rate, low parental investment strategy is designed for this sort of thing. Meanwhile the white population declines year after year, without any epidemics.

    • JohnEngelman

      The problem is that we not only care about our children, we care more about their children than they do.

      • benvad

        AND THAT! Is baseline problem with whites, especially the english speaking ones. You notice Russians don’t seem to give a damn?

  • JohnEngelman

    Blacks are more likely to have abortion than whites.

    • WR_the_realist

      A good reason to favor the right to choose.

      • JohnEngelman

        A better reason to favor abortion rights. I do not care why they have abortions. I want them to have lots of abortions.

        • journey

          The cheapest would be mandatory birth control, sooner than later. But unfortunately, we all forced to live under the delusion of blacks as a protected species (pets). Pure madness.

          • Who Me?

            I get my pets spayed or neutered. Why don’t the liberals do the same with their pets (blacks)?

  • JohnEngelman

    Homosexuality is genetic. By not pressuring homosexuals to get married to people of the opposite sex and have children, we are contributing to a gradual decline in the homosexual population.

    • WR_the_realist

      It’s hard to see how natural selection would select for homosexuality genes. OTOH, there is no question that many, probably most, homosexuals are born that way. I suspect it is due to mistakes in fetal development, which may be in part due to genes but can also be due to stresses on the mother.

      • JohnEngelman

        Homosexuals tend to be more intelligent than heterosexuals. My theory is that homosexuality is caused by genes that are dominant for intelligence, but recessive for homosexuality. If a person has one of the genes he is more intelligent than he would otherwise be, but he is a heterosexual. If he has both of the genes, he is more intelligent, and a homosexual.

        The siblings of homosexuals would tend to have one of the genes. This would enhance their ability to have descendants.

        Sickle cell anemia is passed down through the generations the same way. A person with one gene does not have the malady, but he has a resistance to malaria. A person with both genes has sickle cell anemia, and a resistance to malaria.

        • Bobbala

          Sodomizing your fellow man … in a committed loving relationship, of course … is right up there with a monkey humping a football. It’s not what I would call a demonstration of superior intellect

        • WR_the_realist

          If this is true than intelligent, heterosexual men would be more likely to have homosexual sons than less intelligent, heterosexual men. Is that the case? I’d like to see the paper that shows this.

          • JohnEngelman

            I suspect that what you suggest is true. The homosexuals I have known have not only been intelligent, they have come from affluent families.

            Unfortunately, there are taboos against this kind of research.

        • Human-Stupidity.com

          The sickle cell anemia example is befitting. There is a theory that women want a slight bit of feminine behavior in a otherwise to brutish macho man. Homosexuals just got a too much of that feminine behavior, just as in sickle cell anemia.

    • Periapsis

      No, many homosexuals were “recruited” into the lifestyle because they were sexually molested by homosexuals as children. That is why many peoples, including Slavs regard homosexuals as a disease, a virus to be stamped out. In some cases literally.

      • JohnEngelman

        Men who report that they were abused by priests or teachers do not become homosexuals. Most are emotionally scared for life. I know I would be.

        The friends I have had who were gay told me that they were not abused. They just turned out that way.

        • Periapsis

          That is not true, you have NO idea how I learned the truth…….or who told me the facts. Let’s just say I found firsthand why so many Catholics ARE a mess mentally. Homosexuals rape children, and that often results in those children becoming homosexuals themselves. That is why it is a disease like Ebola that should be stamped out.

      • WR_the_realist

        If I were buggered by a homosexual man when I was child I wouldn’t become a homosexual — I’d hate them.

  • Cannot Tell

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this virus will wipe out most of Sub-Saharan Africa.

  • EiSkogsNisse

    There will be no exports if these so-called medical professionals had some common sense and isolated the affected countries in Africa so that no one gets out. But I know that asking for common sense in these days is just too much to ask for so we’ll have these exports anyway………

  • ViktorNN

    A responsible, rational U.S. President would stop flights from W. Africa NOW.

    • journey

      A black installed as President of this country, built and created by whites. Still can’t wrap my brain around that one. It’s like twilight zone, alternate reality.

      Blacks, creatures that turn anything of any worth to a pile of garbage.

      • RacialRay

        Think of him as the Manchurian/Ebolian candidate. And we elected him twice!

        I am living in a nightmare I can’t wake up from…

        • journey

          I am of the firm belief the ballot boxes are manipulated. This in addition only certain people can run = corrupted same old same old are constantly re-cycled. And blacks are allowed to be lawmakers with IQ/intelligence <85 = Black Caucus = a very sad joke indeed. Then the ever growing Hispanics, another racial group with low IQ.

    • “A responsible, rational U.S. President”

      What is one of those like? It’s been so long since we’ve had one that if we got one, I’d be floored.

      • Richard Nixon came pretty close, except for his medically significant parania complex. Dwight Eisenhower was probably the last completely responsible, rational occupant of the Oval Office.

      • Casper Flannigan

        Andrew Jackson. Maybe Truman. Eisenhower.

        Avoid the infected. Ebola is bloodborne, saliva and other wet things. Our government could care less about us or our loved ones. That’s on us. Stay safe all.

        • I’m not so hot on Andrew Jackson. He was a precursor to the modern “give aways” politicians use to get votes. I think he had cider bought for all who voted for him. However I have’nt researched his politics tho. He definitely wouldv’e sealed the borders tho and would shoot any illegal that came across them.

    • Periapsis

      He’d go so far as to SHOOT DOWN airplanes or SINK ships known to be carrying the modern day Black Death to our shores.

  • benvad

    He’s really a paranoid dude. I’ll bet you that secretly he sees Obama as a great thing for promoting his media channel.

  • There’s another case in Massachusetts mentioned in today’s Yahoo News – another arrival from Liberia.

  • SFLBIB

    Six degrees of separation is the theory
    that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of
    introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps….
    en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Six_degrees_of_separation

    This theory was the topic of an experiment done a few years ago in which a person in a village in the middle of Africa was given a package. The person was going in the general direction of the address on the package [somewhere in the US]. The first person handed it off to another going in the general direction, who handed it off to a third, and so on. The sixth person to get the package was the addressee. So maybe only six people need get the disease before you get it.

  • connorhus

    I don’t think you caught on to reading comprehension much in school since I was implying they are under reporting the numbers and/or have no clue what the casualty rate is out in the bush.

    Hope you feel better now.

  • This is clearly an ploy to get people stirred up (all the bad articles condemning the open travel to West Africa). Here is what is reported:

    And appearing on Fox News yesterday, Donald Trump agreed:
    I think very few people trust our government as being competent,” Trump told the hosts. “Let’s not kid ourselves. I mean with the five billion dollar website for Obamacare, which is still not working frankly and it’s a disaster. And so many other things: Benghazi, wars… IRS.”

    But a new Pew Research poll undercuts all of that:
    Most Are Confident in Government’s Ability to Prevent Major Ebola Outbreak in U.S.

    The findings, released on Monday, indicate a majority of Americans, including 48 percent of Republicans, have faith that the federal government can deal effectively with the Ebola situation, and that only a small percentage of people are “very worried” about their well being.

    Thus all this nonsense showing that people are worried about easy access to Africa is unfounded. Americans are largely confident that the Government has the issue well in hand and can take care of the issue.

  • Who Me?

    Regular, working emergency room nurses in many hospitals KNOW their hospitals are NOT equipped or trained in caring for patients with Ebola–or any other contagious, deadly disease requiring isolation–and they are scared spitless!

    http://feeds[DOT]feedburner[DOT]com/blogspot/LWZb

  • Haereticus

    If this disease came from Europe that clown in the Whitehouse would by now have issued another of his ‘executive orders’ to ban European flights. But it’s another gift from his ancestral motherland, so come on in. Families of subsequent American ebola victims should hold Obama and his administration liable for their suffering and the deaths of American citizens. Deliberately and treacherously neglecting his primary duty to protect the people of the United States should see him imprisoned at the very least, charged with Negligent Homicide.