Ebola Weeks 42-43

There has been some talk about a big leap upward in Ebola cases, to 12k+, on Wikipedia. While the reported numbers are known to be inconsistent, I will note that this worrisome leap is NOT reflected in the WHO numbers which I have been tracking.

The Week 42 numbers were 9936 cases and 4877 deaths. This is 939 new cases and 384 new deaths, which means the number of new cases has remained essentially flat for six weeks and the number of new deaths is falling. This is actually the first hint of a positive sign on the statistical front; other positive signs are the fact that there was no significant Dallas outbreak despite the lack of precautions utilized outside the hospital there.

This doesn’t mean that the disease is in retreat yet, but the pace of its advance appears, on the basis of the stastistics reported, to be slowing and falling well short of the 4-week redoubling rate that looked troublesome only two weeks ago. Obviously this analysis is useless if the numbers are junk, but if it is too soon to call the pandemic threat over, at least the situation doesn’t appear to be looking increasingly grim.

UPDATE: It appears I spoke too soon. I updated the WHO numbers two days ago, and while the Week 42 numbers were encouraging, the Week 43 numbers were just released today and they are downright problematic. In fact, one rather hopes that they are more the result of belated reporting than the actual jump statistically indicated. The Week 43 numbers report 13,703 cases and 4,920 deaths, which amounts to 3,767 new cases and 43 new deaths. This is 50 percent HIGHER than the infection rate required to continue doubling. The other strange thing is the collapsing number of reported deaths, which almost surely indicates a breakdown of the hospital system in the worst-affected countries rather than a reduction in the lethality of the virus.