The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the worst in history, and the death toll just surpassed 1,900. Previous WHO estimates indicated that the outbreak would end mid-fall, but the situation is quickly spiraling out of control and into a sea of unknowns.
The “Ebola epidemic is the largest, and most severe, and most complex we have ever seen in the nearly 40-year history of this disease,” World Health Organization director general Margaret Chan said in a special briefing yesterday. “No one, even outbreak responders, [has] ever seen anything like it.”
Yaneer Bar-Yam, the complex systems analyst whose model accurately predicted the global unrest that led to the Arab Spring, is also worried about the patterns he sees in the disease’s advance. Models he designed for the New England Complex Systems Institute back in 2006 show that Ebola could rapidly spread, and, in a worse case scenario, even cause an extinction event, if enough infected people make it through an international airport.
“What happened was that we were modelling the dynamics of the evolution of diseases—of pathogens—and we showed that if you just add a very small amount of long-range transportation, the diseases escape their local context and eventually drive everything to extinction,” Bar-Yam told Motherboard. “They drive their hosts to extinction”…
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I am not convinced. Ebola does not kill 100% of its victims. The death rate seems to be around 50% for this outbreak. Nor is sufficiently contagious. Yet, it could do a lot of damage, without question.
Related: Saudi authorities on Ebola watch as millions gather for haj: (Reuters) – Anxious to safeguard Islam’s haj pilgrimage from the threat of Ebola, Saudi authorities are screening pilgrims arriving from West Africa and have deployed mobile laboratories to test any suspected cases quickly…
Saudi Arabia earlier this year barred pilgrims from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, the three countries worst hit by Ebola, from applying for haj visas. More than 7,000 Muslims in those countries had applied, said the United Nations.
“All pilgrims arriving through the 15 entry points had to fill in an application to tell us where they have been over the past 21 days, since that’s the incubation period for Ebola,” said Saudi Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Mirghalani…
And more: Greenfield on who Obama refuses to implement Ebola travel restrictions: Sure why bother to stop people with a deadly contagious disease from entering the country? Obama trashed restrictions of entrees with AIDS. Why draw the line at Ebola?
Maybe if they were Republicans, he would have checkpoints in place…
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Compare Saudi Arabia’s reaction to Obama’s.