Posts Tagged ‘virus’

For the trusting and the hopeful: Ebola, Everything will be ok!

ebola

So, Ebola has arrived, the Black Death of the 21st century and we’re all going to die. Not so fast!

Ok, Ebola is a horrible disease but we’ve gotten a lot of things going for us to be hopeful about. First is that Ebola is not an airborne virus, certainly there is some debate about how easily it spreads via aerosolized droplets, but no one is saying Ebola could spread through a ventilation system in a hospital or office building and unlikely would widely spread through an airplane.

So the virus even if it does get into the US will be hard to spread. You may naturally ask, so why is it spreading so fast in Africa. There are a number of reasons, most are related to resources and infrastructure. In countries like Sierra Leone hospitals do not have adequate quarantine facilities, health care workers do not have proper protective gear, sometimes they don’t even have rubber gloves and masks!

The second thing that helps the spread is a lack of good infrastructure which does not allow for authorities to easily contact trace. Contact tracing is when health workers track down every contact an infected person had once they became contagious. For obvious reasons, this is far more effective in a country like the US where we have easy to find street addresses and the resources to track people down. Not to mention the ability to track cell phones and lots of media to help in locating folks.
The other issue health officials face in Western Africa is a population with a high percentage of uneducated citizens overly susceptible to superstition.Many people in Western Africa do not believe Ebola is real and some believe that health officials are actually killing people. So in many cases when family members get sick they keep them at home and don’t tell anyone, eventually infecting the whole family and others who come in contact with them. In some cases health workers have even been attacked!
In the US we certainly face a percentage of folks who will believe it’s a hoax, but a scared populace and a motivated government will allow for contact tracing to be done very effectively as it has been surrounding the Dallas case.  The second big reason we don’t have to worry about Ebola in the US is that now that the developing world has become truly worried, we’re starting to throw enough resources at the outbreak to help stop it. First the US and other countries have been deploying expert personnel and resources to Africa.  Additionally, a new vaccine is being fast tracked to help out and limit the spread of the infection by GlaxoSmithKline, a US company. This fast track vaccine trial is being publicly funded as well and of course being a US company we’ll have prime access to the finish product and they are already in production of 10,000 doses of the vaccine.
So yes, the Ebola outbreak is bad, it will spread but here in the US we are about as safe as anywhere on the planet, so relax and sweet dreams. ~ ZD Blue
PS – want to scare the crap out of yourself read this: For the cynical and the conspiracy minded: Ebola, This is the End!

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For the cynical and the conspiracy minded: Ebola, This is the End!

ebola

So it’s finally here, the global pandemic we have been warned about for decades. Ebola, a once sleepy little virus wiping out villages in the jungles of Africa has gone prime time. It’s a big boy virus now, out of the villages and into the cities of Western Africa. With a 70% mortality rate and projections by the World Health Organization of 20,000 cases by November, we should be scared. Because without some massive global efforts those numbers continue to climb, although large numbers of deaths in Africa are not the problem. The problem of course is the number of infections and Ebola’s 21 day incubation period. That’s how the first case got into the US, the man flying into the US from West Africa showed no signs, and likely wasn’t contagious during his trip, but became sick once he landed. Current screening methods, looking for folks with fevers won’t work when a simple dose of aspirin or ibuprofen can mask that symptom. Given that having a fever at the airport gets you quarantined with actual Ebola cases, and the existence of better care outside of Africa, there is a lot of incentive to get out of Africa if you think you’re sick.  So, it’s going to happen, Ebola cases will get out of Africa and we’ve seen one already in the US.  So Ebola will spread, however, when it spreads to organized, well-resourced countries with solid hospital systems and a high ability to contact trace, the spread will be limited as it has been in Nigeria.
Of course it’s also going to spread to countries with high population densities and poorly resourced countries, with bad hospitals and an inability to effectively contact trace, think Asia as in India, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Nepal. There are likely other countries all over the world that fit this bill. Those countries are very afraid right now and India is preparing and Nepal is very afraid. Many of these countries have poor people who are working in West Africa, how many will come home infected and sick?
So if this will be limited to poor countries why should we be afraid in the US? Mostly due to the economic fallout from large areas of the world being infected with a raging pandemic. This will cause borders to close, travel and commerce to be greatly interrupted as countries, including the US, go into isolation out of fear. This could easily lead to the greatest economic depression in history. Once the dominoes begin to fall on that front things get very, very ugly everywhere for those who are under resourced and particularly for those under prepared.
For the cynics!
A more cynical but less gruesome idea however exists in my mind. You see it typically takes 5-10 years of research for a vaccine to get approved and that’s both a significant time and money investment by a drug company. However, if there’s a raging epidemic of a deadly virus somewhere, hypothetically let’s say Ebola in West Africa, you might just get that time line sped up. On that front GlaxoSmithKline has gotten approval and started vaccinating volunteers with their new vaccine in recent weeks.  Additionally it has been reported that they have already started production on 10,000 doses of the vaccine assuming it works.
Why would GlaxoSmithKline do this, is it out of the generous nature of their heart?
I will propose a more devious reason for this, the best thing that can happen to a drug company from an economic perspective, is for an outbreak to allow them to highly compress the timeline for a drug to come to market. This speeds up the return on investment and in this case they are actually being supported by public funds to help make it happen. Even better, if the outbreak is in the developing world where lots of poor people die far away from the people in countries where people have money to pay for vaccines. Even better yet, if some cases make it to the developed world and really scare the hell out of the masses. Sound familiar?
Scared affluent white people will line up in droves to get a vaccine for the Black Death of the modern age and GlaxoSmithKline will happily provide it and at a premium price I’m sure. To be clear, I’m not saying a drug company planned this, I’m also not saying they didn’t. It is more likely they saw a market opportunity and have jumped on it like good little capitalists.
So sit back, save up your money and wait for GlaxoSmithKline to ride in on its white Bentley to save the day. That is assuming they haven’t miscalculated and the dominoes don’t fall too quickly and the shit really hits the fan. If it does friends, I’m sure like me, you’re prepared, your supplies are in place and your bugout location is secure. Sweet dreams! ~ ZD Blue

PS – for a more hopeful piece check out: For the Trusting and the Hopeful: Ebola, Everything will be ok