The Ebola virus problem in West Africa has gotten lots of high-profile media coverage in developed nations - and no lack of reasons for people to clamor for more funding. No less than Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, said that the NIH had not created a vaccine due to lack of money - the $330 billion the NIH has gotten since 2001 didn't count, and they spent $325,000 on a study this past year to find out if wives would be happier if they calmed down during arguments with their husbands, but had no Ebola funding, those efforts are instead funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
And a new team has rushed a computer model into The Lancet Infectious Diseases to make the 'money will fix this' argument, created a transmission model of Liberia's most populous county, Montserrado, and finding that there will be 171,000 Ebola cases, 12 percent of the population, in the next two months unless someone spends a lot of money.
Much of this suffering — some 97,940 cases of the disease — could be averted if the international community steps up control measures immediately, starting Oct. 31st, the model predicts. This would require additional Ebola treatment center beds, a fivefold increase in the speed with which cases are detected, and allocation of protective kits to households of patients awaiting treatment center admission. The study predicts that, at best, just over half as many cases (53,957) can be averted if the interventions are delayed to Nov. 15th.
Had all of these measures been in place by Oct. 15th, their model finds that 137,432 cases could have been avoided. There have only been approximately 9,000 reported cases and 4,500 deaths from the disease in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea since the latest outbreak began, but they predict we are too late to save 137,000 already.
Beware epidemiologists doing math.
"The current global health strategy is woefully inadequate to stop the current volatile Ebola epidemic," says co-author Frederick Altice, M.D., professor of internal medicine and public health added. "At a minimum, capable logisticians are needed to construct a sufficient number of Ebola treatment units in order to avoid the unnecessary deaths of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people."