Friday, November 1, 2019

So, What's The Ebola Outbreak Gotten Up To?

Since August of this year (at our last update) up until now, it's killed another 300 people. Which is exactly how long it took from initial outbreak (four months or so) to get to 300 deaths.
So overall, it's not spreading wildly out of control, so far as we know.

Overall, there have been 2,184 deaths, out of 3,624 known cases. The bare death pctg. on that sits right around 60%, although to their credit, Wikipedia's page posts the tally at a consistent 67% going back to May of this year, which means they finally started spotting the disease the 21-day span from appearance to death, rather than not counting how many dead now vs. how many had it 21 days ago. So, finally, that penny seems to have dropped for them.

WHO reports that  a total of 243,322 people have been vaccinated to date using the 95+% effective rVSV-Zebov vaccine, which is the difference this time around between an epidemic, and a pandemic. It has also kept health worker casualties to 5% of the total, rather than 10% or more, as in prior outbreaks.

And rVSV-Zebov is now going from unproven experimental vaccine to certified treatment. Due to impossible ethics concerns, standard protocols cannot be followed, so empirical evidence from this outbreak is being substituted, and it is or will be soon certified as a standard vaccine. Long -term effects will become apparent in the long term. If it turns out to be a problem, we won't know for 5-20 years. But for this strain, it's vastly superior to nothing at all, in the short-term.

Contacts being tracked two months ago were 20,000+; now it is less than 5,000.
Granting there are certain provinces, for all these numbers, where there is no medical contact, vaccination, and treatment presence, as has been true since mid-summer, due to the usual central African state of low-intensity guerrilla warfare, seeing contacts shrink this way is yuuuuuge for how well they're containing the virus. So far.

In short, vaccination has slowed the growth rate to a crawl, and given ordinary relief efforts time to educate and vaccinate around the disease before it could get to major cities, and turn into a pandemic, unlike what happened in W.Africa in 2014ff.

That's the difference a working vaccine makes. (And would have made five years ago.)

Nonetheless, the saving grace in this outbreak continues to be raw grinding everyday poverty so severe that simply no one affected this time around could afford to get out and carry this to the first world. The rest is just happy and naked good fortune, far more than planned efforts. Had this outbreak made it to any city with an international airport, we'd have been in 2014 all over again, and it would continue to outpace all efforts, just as before. Instead, it burrowed deeper into poorer areas, and probably infected and killed more than the tally shows (as usual, because Africa), but quite nakedly, they're poor Africans beyond accounting, rather than getting to, say, Mombasa, Kampala, Nairobi, and thence to London, Rome, Paris, NYFC, and/or the rest of the world.

Huzzah. Thank the deity of your choice there. Pop a cork.
This epidemic cannon shot went over the bow without striking anything vital.
(Unless you're one of the 3000+ wretches hit there this time around, or a family member of same, in which case, God help you.)

So, barring a disaster, this one is on course to eventually burn itself out, because of a functional vaccine, and because it hit demographic cannon fodder. Sux for the Congolese, but there it is.

For further illustration, Ebola is only the third-place biggest problem in DRCongo at the moment: this year alone, malaria has already killed 14,711 people there just this year, and measles has killed another 4,149, so Ebola at a "mere" 2,184 deaths since August of 2018 is relatively small potatoes in the face of the general shitholian third-world health crisis in DRC, in this or any year, which also includes bubonic plague, cholera, and multiple other outbreaks.

In short, DRC is not a vacation spot, this millennium, and probably ever, but rather a country desperately in need of a good napalming, like much of equatorial Africa, due to multiple endemic problems. It is a sinkhole of Fail, pretty much going back to the dawn of time, as far as anyone can discern. Whether that can ever be anything other has yet to be demonstrated, for even a week.

This outbreak isn't completely gone, and it continues to grow, infinitesimally, but hasn't managed to quite get to a major city with an international airport, let alone outwards thence, but only just barely.

File this one, at this point, under Near Miss/Happy Accident, for now, and probably until there's another outbreak there or elsewhere.

Optimism is justified, cautiously, and it only took us 15 months to get there. The slow roll-out for that country of the equivalent of a WTC attack, has been swallowed up by the running sore that is year over year in most of sub-Saharan Africa back to before anyone bothered to write it down.

Posit an ordinary outbreak closer to or within a major African population center, or, God forbid, some @$$holes weaponize this and send a not-so-smart bomb human vector or three into the West deliberately, and we're right back on the bullseye. And to date, it's not like CDC or anyone else has 500,000 doses of the vaccine on hand just in case it gets somewhere far closer to home, or more vital to the spread of the disease.

Self-quarantine is still, as always, your best defense, as in nearly all cases.
This outcome was not apparent a year ago, nor can or should you expect it to be repeated next time around. Just like mutual funds, past behavior is no guarantee of future performance.

Bear that fully in mind for the long run, particularly your own. Being able to ride out anything for 90-180 days with supplies on hand and no resupply, and complete self-sufficiency, is effective for only almost any catastrophe you could think of. Write that down on your hands in laundry marker, lest ye forget.

Where Ebola and any number of other potential plagues are concerned,

you will see this material again, kids. 


Anonymous said...

We in the USA should build up a supply of the Ebola vaccine. Like you said, we will see the virus again. Hopefully we can get the often selfish and short sighted folks in the EU to assist and develop their own vaccine stockpile too. Maybe China and Japan also?

The more of us that can fight these outbreaks in Africa, the better. Also, if we develop an infrastructure to produce the vaccine, we can more easily expand production, as opposed to trying to create a production system from nothing.


Linda Fox said...

I've really enjoyed your updates. I'm a retired science teacher, and I regularly pass on these posts to other teachers.

I just hope the success of the vaccine wakes up a few of the idiots who are anti-vax.

George True said...

While building up a stockpile of the vaccine would be the logical thing to do, I doubt that TPTB here will do it. They want us hoi polloi to die, and a convenient Ebola epidemic to their way of thinking would be a feature not a bug.

Regarding the napalming of Africa for the overall betterment of mankind, see the timeless commentary on that topic entitled 'Let Africa Sink' by Kim DuToit.

Anonymous said...

you like quotes from movies: “Mother Nature is a serial killer. No ones better. More creative. Like all serial killers, she can't help but the urge to get caught. What good are all those brilliant crimes if nobody takes the credit? So she leaves crumbs. Now, the hard part is, and why you spend decades in school, is seeing the crumbs for the clues they are. Sometimes the thing you thought to be the most brutal aspect of the virus, actually turns out to be the chink in its armor. She loves disguising her weaknesses as strengths. She's a bitch.”

Ray - SoCal said...

Thanks for the update!

Anonymous said...

Ah, malaria...thanks for nothing Rachel Carson. You and your stupid book have killed millions, probably more than Stalin or Mao. Those clever attempts to genetically alter mosquitos haven't panned out have they?
Let's hear it for DDT!!
"Better living through chemistry"
While we're at it, how bout we restart the napalm line too?
Boat Guy

Anonymous said...

The Freeholder said...

Why weaponize it? That takes time and resources that are difficult to accumulate. Simply get a hundred volunteers. Get them tourist visas to the large cities of your choice. The day before they leave, expose them to the bodily fluids of an Ebola victim-smear it in a cut, say. Then put them on planes for their vacations.

Problem created.

Aesop said...

What you described IS "weaponizing" Ebola.
What did you think that meant?

Tucanae Services said...

My question would be, is the current vaccine target specific? Would a variant of the Ebola virus make the current vaccine moot? If so, right back to square one.

Anonymous said...
Bye Bye Ebola music Vid.

Aesop said...

It ain't near gone yet, but's it's trending to burn itself out, eventually.

The Gray Man said...

Scientific victories against Ebola, brought to you by your friendly neighborhood white man.

Once we heal them, we should pile a few hundred thousand of them into a boat and bring them over here. We have plenty of space and money.

Phelps said...

It's cute when people think that weaponizing a virus takes a million dollar lab.

It takes a $.05 razor blade and the will to do it.

Aesop said...

People have been weaponizing disease since they loaded diseased animals and human corpses into trebuchets and launched them over walls during city sieges.