Sunday, 16 August 2015

Snapdate: Ebola virus diseaseClick on image to enlarge.

This is one of the data visualizations from my Ebola virus disease (EVD) graphs and tallies page.[1]

A crude extrapolation from current publicly available Ebola virus disease (EVD) confirmed case numbers. To see how I made this please visit here.[2]
The P-value for this linear trend model is <0.0001. 
The standard error = 6.13; R-squared = 0.20.
Click on graph to enlarge.
The first time I posted it I wondered if the end was in sight. That was 6th of May. Over three months later I'm wondering that again - but this time things are a bit different. There has been a steady decline in new cases, also in cases that cannot be tracked back to a known source and in cases found only after they have died of EVD. There have also been the first very promising results from one of the vaccine candidates in Guinea [4] - which has always been a difficult locale for the control of EVD case activity.

So it does look much more likely that the end to EVD in West Africa, or at least an end, is nigh.

By "an end" I mean that we may be close to seeing the cessation of new cases popping up in transmission chains each and every week. We may soon be seeing zero new cases for long periods of time. Those blissful stretches however, may be punctuated by a case arising from parts unknown. They may be tracked to a sexual transmission event, or their origin may never be fully understood. We saw this scenario in Liberia.[3] Virus characterisation indicated that the Ebola virus variant from the young Liberian man was most closely resembled other viruses that had been circulating in Liberia weeks before; the exact source of his infection though, remains unknown.

So we're not at all free and clear of this virus yet - but we are getting very close to shifting into another phase. It's still a long haul with many weeks of anxious waiting and heightened vigilance as well as the need to retain the capacity to cope with a new case or cases. But that said, we do seem to have taken one more step back from the precipice we once stared into as we imagined an Africa fending off a rolling EVD epidemic - and a world at risk as well - however unlikely that should have been.