Perusing the most recent WHO report, and various articles, the outlook is mixed.
The rate of infection, promisingly, is slowing. In 77 days from early February to May, the outbreak doubled from 1000 cases to 2000. In the 84 days since then, it’s only grown half as fast, to a shade more than 3000 cases. That’s mainly a tribute to a functional experimental vaccine.
That puts us still at “only” an 11.5 (out of 34) on the Worldwide Pandemic Panic Meter©.
For reference, in 2014, the outbreak in West Africa grew from 1000 cases to 17,000 in a similar timespan “officially”, which means it probably grew from 3000 cases to 50,000 cases in reality.
We are nowhere near that bad off this time. That’s the difference between rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine, and no vaccine.
The disease continues to whack between 2/3rds and 3/4ths of all those infected (depending on whether you count suspected cases or not).
The usual pre-literate idiots are still shooting up aid workers, and burning down Ebola Treatment Centers, stealing corpses to fondle and slam dance with before burial, etc.
It’s still subject to African authorities, and local math capabilities and accounting practices, as always.
What is more concerning are a couple of things:
1) The appearance of new cases in Goma, a city of 2M, with international flights weekly to Nairobi, Kenya and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and internal flights to Kinshasa, DRC, megopolii all, connecting flights thence to everywhere in the world.
2) The fact that medical authorities have no contact route for how the latest cases there arrived over 100 miles outside the previous “Hot” Zone. A ring 100 miles in diameter places Uganda (which already had three cases, but which outbreak seems to have spent itself rapidly), Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan, let alone central areas in the DRC previously unaffected, all at high risk for the next pop-up cases.
In short, while it’s spreading at a relative snail’s pace, they haven’t whipped it, and it’s popping up (and will continue to) all over the map, amidst the poorest countries on the planet, several of which have the capability for it to blow right out of the area, and spread to new cities, and even new continents.
#1 is also the reason (along with seizing the moment to get more funding $upport) that WHO and the UN pulled the panic alarm on this outbreak in July. Epidemics in cities with international airports will do that.
From the WHO report:
“The committee cited recent developments in the outbreak in making its recommendation, including the first confirmed case in Goma, a city of almost 2 million people bordering Rwanda. The committee determined that risk of spread remains very high at national and regional levels, but still low at global level. Nor restrictions on trade or travel are recommended.”
That last part, given that Point of Entry/Point of Contact screening relies on detecting fever, in an outbreak their own documentation from last October confirms is totally absent in 50% of confirmed Ebola cases, ensures that at some point, infected people will slip through to perfunctory kabuki theater “screenings” everywhere, and bring this outbreak to points far removed from Kivu and Ituri provinces in DRC.
That approach goes by the quaint colloquialism of “having your head up your @$$”.
(You will see this material again.)
Also for reference, airfare from Goma to NYFC via Addis Ababa is $983, one way.
The only thing helpful about this is that the average per capita income in DRC is $800 per year, which ranks them at 226 (out of 228) on the world income list.
The only thing keeping Ebola in Africa, as always so far, is poverty.
If this gets into populations with somewhat more means of livelihood than $15.38/week, it goes everywhere, at the speed of 767s.
And given that medical personnel comprise 5% of the cases of this outbreak, it’s worth noting that the do-gooder aid workers are required to have round trip passage in hand before they can go there. Which was how the US got 8 of its 10 cases in 2014.
But it’s okay, because now we have 15 BL-IV beds.
My take on all of the above:
You’re never wrong to be prepared for bad things.
Canned food takes a long time to go bad.
And we’re always just one Duncan away from reliving 2014.
Assuming Bad People don’t help things along in that respect, a-purpose.
You cannot and should not expect Team Allahu Akbar to stay stupid forever.
That concludes our summary for August.
With the usual caveats about African math and accounting practices, and any developments of a more troublesome nature, we will revisit this in September, unless fate takes a hand.