Call to Action for an International Epidemic

by Robert Van Buskirk, Ph.D.

White House Petition
Call to Action Graphic
Original Friends and Family Call to Action
Preliminary Forecast of Ebola Epidemic Casualties (Technical Note)
Preliminary Forecast of Ebola Epidemic Casualties (Spreadsheet)

The growing Ebola epidemic is a major international emergency.

If you agree, please sign the White House petition at: http://wh.gov/lS7lN

I set up this website as a tool for people like me who believe that it is unacceptable for us to stand by and let the Ebola crisis unfold like hurricane Katrina or Rwanda.

If we don't pull the alarm RIGHT NOW, and mobilize very quickly to control and mitigate the Ebola epidemic, it is possible, or even likely that hundreds of thousands of people may die. I personally think that this is completely unacceptable and immoral. And I think that most people would agree.

While an emergency mobilization by the US government might cost something like $1 billion at the end of the day, it could save potentially hundreds of thousands of lives over the next six months compared to a scenario where we sit back and let the epidemic response grow more slowly over time. I personally cannot with a good conscience say that it is not worth a few thousand dollars to save a person from death by hemorrhagic fever.

The description of the symptoms of Ebola are as follows (from Wikipedia):

"Ebola usually begin suddenly with an influenza-like stage characterized by fatigue, fever, headaches, joint, muscle and abdominal pain... In 4050% of cases, bleeding from puncture sites and mucous membranes (e.g. gastrointestinal tract, nose, vagina and gums) has been reported. In the bleeding phase, which typically starts 5 to 7 days after first symptoms internal and subcutaneous bleeding may present itself through reddening of the eyes and bloody vomit. Bleeding into the skin may create petechiae, purpura, ecchymoses and hematomas (especially around needle injection sites). Types of bleeding known to occur with Ebola virus disease include vomiting blood, coughing it up or blood in the stool."

The total annual spending of the US government is about $3.5 trillion dollars per year. I think our government can find at least 0.03% of this resource to prevent >100,000 people from dying such a horrible death. I think it is worth it. I hope you do too.

If you also agree that it is worth at least 0.03% of our annual Federal spending to save more than 100,000 people from getting or dying from Ebola, sign the petition, call your congress person, write an op-ed, hand out leaflets, give a sermon in your church, just do whatever is necessary to help prevent this tragedy from happening.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for whatever you can do.

And if it is useful to you, I have a short technical memo and spreadsheet that I did that describes what might happen if we don't take this emergency more seriously.

Technical Description of Epidemic Projections

We build various forecast scenarios for how the Ebola Epidemic might unfold over the next 6-9 months. We characterize the scenarios by a few key parameters which include:

1. Days until the growth/spread of the epidemic is controlled
2. Days from the date that the epidemic stops spreading to the end of the epidemic
3. Current aggregate epidemic growth rate
4. Maximum epidemic growth rate when epidemic growth gets controlled
Given these four parameters, one can calculate scenarios for total Ebola cases and deaths, assuming that the growth rate for cumulative deaths is the same as the growth rate for cumulative cases, and assuming a particular functional form for changes in cumulative case growth rates over time.

The results of four scenario calculations are shown in the table below. what we find from these results if that under cases of larger growth rates and delayed control of the epidemic, hundreds of thousands of people may die, and that every day of delay in aggressively controlling the epidemic will result in thousands of additional deaths. The details of these calculations are in the technical note linked to at the top of this page.

This information has been prepared by Robert Van Buskirk as a volunteer effort. It is my sincerest hope that my small contribution to raising the alarm on the Ebola epidemic can help keep this tragedy from being any bigger than it has to be.

Contact Info:

Robert Van Buskirk
Berkeley, CA
email: robert@punchdown.org

Last update by rvb August 24, 2014.