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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 25-Oct-2014
25-Oct-14 World View -- Two-year-old baby in Mali dies after spreading Ebola

Web Log - October, 2014

25-Oct-14 World View -- Two-year-old baby in Mali dies after spreading Ebola

World Health Organization declares a global polio outbreak

This morning's key headlines from

Two-year-old baby in Mali dies after spreading Ebola

The Ebola virus (Science Insider)
The Ebola virus (Science Insider)

The news Craig Spencer, a physician with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) who was treating Ebola patients in Guinea, has himself contracted Ebola since returning to NY city, is triggering high anxiety and near-panic in some people in NY city, especially on the news that Spencer took the subway and went to a bowling alley. And yet, Spencer's situation appears to have been a template for how the public can be kept safe from Ebola. New Yorkers are many, many times more likely to be killed in a traffic accident than by Ebola.

By contrast, there may be a worst-case scenario unfolding in Mali.

A 2-year-old girl was carried by her grandmother hundreds of miles on a bus that traveled from Guinea to Mali, stopping in several towns, including two hours in the capital city Bamako. The girl had a bleeding nose, and was first treated for typhoid on Monday in a clinic in Mali. When she did not improve, she was tested for Ebola, which was confirmed on Thursday.

Officials doing contact tracing identified 43 people, including 10 health workers, who came into close contact with the girl. But there may have been dozens of additional people who came into contact with the sick girl during the bus trip, and there is no way to trace these people.

The NY city case and the Mali case are sharp contrasts, showing what is and isn't possible in controlling the spread of Ebola.

As I wrote last week ( "19-Oct-14 World View -- Forecasting the Ebola endgame and Global Risk"), any large city and any war zone are places which are vulnerable to the spread of Ebola, either unintentionally or through a terrorist act. But as the Mali case shows, any crowded train or bus could be the vehicle that spreads Ebola from city to city or country to country.

Since Ebola has already been spreading in Guinea for several months, we may never know whether the 2-year-old girl is responsible infecting other people in that country. The girl died on Friday. Forbes and BBC and CNN

WHO: 'Millions of doses Ebola vaccine by end of 2015'

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that "millions of doses" of an Ebola vaccine will be available by the end of 2015. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the Public Health Agency of Canada already have experimental vaccines in safety trials.

Normally it would take almost ten years to bring a new vaccine to market. The "millions of doses" prediction is a best case scenario that assumes that everything will go well in the breakneck development being planned. Enormous shortcuts will be taken in safety and efficacy trials, and there are insufficient manufacturing plants that meet the "biosafety level 2" regulatory requirements, meaning that safety standards may have to be reduced. And even if all that goes OK, it's still possible that the vaccine won't work, or won't work well, or will have dangerous or unpleasant side effects.

There are plenty of legal problems. Pharmaceutical companies will not go ahead with the vaccine program unless governments absolve them of legal liability if something goes wrong.

And then there's the problem of administering the vaccine to the public. There are dozens of megacities in the world, each with over 20 million people. Once Ebola starts spreading in such a city, it will be too late to start administering a vaccine. Even if the vaccinations start early, there may be gang wars or drug cartels making an effective vaccination program impossible. Vaccine may first be given to the upper classes, possibly stirring unrest in the slums.

Similar problems exist in a war zone. If Ebola starts spreading in the war zones in Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syria, Iraq, or any other war zone, then a vaccination program will be impossible. An Ebola vaccine will first be administered to whichever army has control of the supply, but administering the vaccine to civilians may be impossible.

The Ebola cases that arose this past week in NY city and Mali are going to be repeated many, many times. As I wrote last week in ( Forecasting the Ebola endgame, I expect the world to look very different a year from now. BBC and Science Insider and AP

World Health Organization declares a global polio outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) is declaring a resurgence of polio globally, with outbreaks in at least 10 countries: Pakistan, Syria, Cameroon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. According to a WHO official:

"It’s really attributed to two things. One is the spread out of Pakistan through the intense transmission. And then combined with an increase in vulnerability of some highly unstable areas like Syria where it’s been able to get another foothold."

Karachi Pakistan is rapidly becoming a polio hub. Polio cases in Pakistan have been surging to record-breaking levels, thanks to the Taliban's opposition to polio vaccine, claiming that it's a Western plot to sterilize Pakistani children. The Taliban have been murdering health care workers in Pakistan involved in polio providing vaccines, ever since the U.S. administration bragged in 2011 that a hepatitis vaccination program in Pakistan was used as a cover to locate and capture Osama bin Laden.

Polio has also re-emerged in Syria since polio vaccinations have become extremely limited since the war began in 2011.

There has been a polio vaccine available for decades, and yet polio has still not been eradicated. In fact, cases of polio have been surging in war zones and large cities where there is civil strife.

If an effective Ebola vaccine is developed, it's far from clear that even having millions of doses available will be effective in stopping the spread of Ebola. AP and Deutsche Welle and AP (May 2014)

Steve Bannon interviews John Xenakis about Ebola crisis

On Sunday, October 19, Breitbart editor-in-chief interviewed me about the Ebola crisis on his SiriusXM Patriot radio show. You can hear the 15-minute interview by clicking on: John Xenakis interviewed by Steve Bannon (MP3)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Oct-14 World View -- Two-year-old baby in Mali dies after spreading Ebola thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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