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The Mathematics of Ebola

Posted on October 15, 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.’ ”

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8 thoughts on “The Mathematics of Ebola

  1. What in blazes ever happened to COMMON SENSE ? Why are people who have been exposed to Ebola not allowed into the U.S. ? We are dying from political correctness ! Meanwhile, other African nationsw have closed their borders to folks who wish to enter their countries from infected regions.

  2. desierasmus says:


    The Angel of Death http://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2014/10/14/th

    Ebola Preparation ‘Will bankrupt my hospital!’ Director Reacts to CDC Prep Call http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2014/10/14/ebola-prepar

    An on-point reader response to the first post above:

    When God is abandoned reason and rationality go with Him. He doesn't have to order up plagues and droughts and wars. People will do that all on their own. Prudence, thrift, courage, compassion, faith, wisdom, chastity and fidelity will vanish out of sight along with the Lord and in their place come all the corruption and irrational stupidity dressed in scholarly robes one could hope for along with plenty of change.

    "How is anyone hurt?" asks the skeptic. Just look around and see. The nation abandons God and within 2 generations the decline is obvious and accelerating. "Nonsense" cries the skeptic who then points out all the reasons why the mess is the result of ignoring facts A and B and not following formula X or philosophy Y. And the nation and people continue to become weaker, poorer, more divided, more contentious.

    This is not magic thinking. It is the acceptance of Truth and the virtues that come with it then living and working doing one's best to live those virtues because it is Right to do so. Abandon Him and any and every off-the-wall superstition imaginable flows in to take His place. Some of these are crude, silly things and some are very sophisticated and logically thought out but all are paths to ruin. It was Chesterton (in "Orthodoxy" I think) who wrote that insanity is not an attack on the imagination but on the faculty of reason.

  3. TyrannyOfEvilMen says:

    “There aren’t very many of them compared to us but their numbers have been growing – exponentially? – Is that the word I’m looking for?”

    “I hope not. It’s a scary word.”

    – From “The 10 O’clock People” by Stephen King

  4. Glen Ganges says:

    As has been postulated elsewhere…IF or now more likely WHEN Ebola hits Central and South America all bets are off. If we here in the US think that mass illegal immigration across our porous border is bad now, just wait.
    Can you say zombie apocalypse?

  5. “But the most important thing,” McCaughey said, “is that doctors and nurses are not ready for the challenge of using this personal protective equipment even if you see them with the helmet, the respirator, the full suits, as the CDC said on the call today, even all that equipment is not enough to guarantee the safety of health care workers because it is so perilous to put it on and particularly to remove it once it’s become contaminated.”

    This from the Ebola preparation article you linked too.

    It actually isn't hard at all to disinfect the equipment and suits if you have a strong UV light. It would take about 10 minutes, then you could take off your gear safely. The problem is that our hospitals, contrary to the never ending propaganda of "we have the best health care system in the world", are actually early 20th century fossils.

    The health care system has been frozen and stagnant for quite some time, locked in too old protocols and outdated medical knowledge. We simply know much more about health that never got taught in medical school to doctors. Using bleach to clean is error-prone, expensive and toxic, but hospitals still do it.

    The more I learn about Ebola, the more I am convinced a UV drop with vitamin C and selenium is all that is needed to bring a patient to full recovery. But don't expect the CDC to jump on that, it would make their patent on Ebola worthless.

  6. And all decisions being made by bureaucrats, politicians and health officials are still geared to “How can I take advantage of this looming pandemic to make money or get re-elected?” The public’s safety is the last thing on their minds.

  7. Maybe, but you can be sure that they have already secured a safe place for themselves and probably their friends and family also. At taxpayer expense, of course.

  8. I hope an Obama family member preferably Obama gets Ebola than I bet there will be a travel ban