Could the deadly Ebola virus rage into a worldwide pandemic which eradicates half of all human life with a year? The headline reads extremely dramatic and sensational, I know…
Based on recent statements that the number of Ebola cases has been doubling about every three weeks, a simple math exercise reveals the following:
First, I will say that the following simple mathematical exercise of Ebola transmission is (hopefully) unlikely (to be this extreme) given that the current “reproduction number” (1.5 – 2) is based on that from the stricken African countries, and would hopefully lessen somewhat from quarantine and advanced medical efforts taken in developed countries.
(The reproduction number estimates how many people, on average, will catch the virus from each person stricken with Ebola)
Having said that though, it is also believed that for every known reported case of Ebola (in Africa) there may be 6 or more going unreported (raising the reproduction number).
Here’s the thing folks – Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control just said “The speed at which things are moving on the ground, it’s hard for people to get their minds around. People don’t understand the concept of exponential growth,”
So my ordinary math exercise illustrates exponential growth in the context of three weeks:
We start with the current approximated number of Ebola cases (10,000) and we will simply double the number of Ebola cases every three weeks and see where we end up…
Ebola Week 0 (10,000)
Ebola Week 3 (20,000)
Ebola Week 6 (40,000)
Ebola Week 9 (80,000)
Ebola Week 12 (160,000)
Ebola Week 15 (320,000)
Ebola Week 18 (640,000)
Ebola Week 21 (1,280,000)
Ebola Week 24 (2,560,000)
Ebola Week 27 (5,120,000)
Ebola Week 30 (10,240,000)
Ebola Week 33 (20,480,000)
Ebola Week 36 (40,960,000)
Ebola Week 39 (81,920,000)
Ebola Week 42 (163,840,000)
Ebola Week 45 (527,680,000)
Ebola Week 48 (655,360,000)
Ebola Week 51 (1,310,720,000)
Ebola Week 54 (2,621,440,000)
Ebola Week 57 (5,242,880,000)
Ebola Week 61 (The entire planet)
From the example above, given the mortality of Ebola somewhere between 50% and 80%, in a little over a year this illustrates eradication of half or more the population.
Again, this only goes to illustrate a ‘perfect storm’ based on a doubling every three weeks. In reality, I would highly presume that this would not be the case over time – however who’s to say that developed countries will be able to successfully control this? (Our normalcy bias and expectations that we are all-powerful beings – may be flawed) And who’s to say that this Ebola doesn’t mutate further – increasing it’s transferability? (There’s something very different about this Ebola)
Exponential growth nearly always catches everyone off-guard. It always appears to start slow. The problem is that an exponential curve will always suddenly and dramatically begin to arc steeply up – catching most by surprise. It’s a very powerful thing.
It wouldn’t hurt you to be a little (or a-lot) prepared for this. The thing is – the $hit will hit the fan way way before the numbers of cases gets completely out of control. Our just-in-time manufacturing and delivery systems will completely collapse when a tipping point of panic is reached within the population. It could happen very much sooner than you might think.
My suggestion: Start quietly topping off your preps.