Research Model Projects 1.1 Million to 2.3 Million Ebola Deaths By September 2015

ebola worker
A medical worker wearing a protective suit carries bags followed by Ebola infected children in the high-risk area of the Elwa hospital runned by Medecins Sans Frontieres (Photograph: Dominique Faget/Guardian)

User “Scouter” from Free Republic configured the the projected number of Ebola cases and Ebola deaths worldwide based on the numbers that have been reported from June through September of this year. Based on his calculations, by next September 2015 there will be between 1.1 million and 2.3 million deaths worldwide from the Ebola virus.

I am not an epidemiologist, and I have no inside knowledge about the current Ebola epidemic. But I have spent the last 26 years of my career applying computers to the practice of medicine and to medical data. I hold a Master’s Degree in Medical Informatics from a major university known for their expertise in that field. I currently work in that field at a large, famous, metropolitan teaching hospital. I am remaining anonymous only because I don’t want my employer to be held responsible for this post in any way. It is my work exclusively, and I am responsible for any information or projections it makes.

The numbers produced by this model are “projections”, not “predictions”. That is to say, I do not predict that there will be x number of Ebola cases on any given future date. Rather, I “project” into the future, assuming a constant Daily Transmission Rate (DTR), based on past data. Any number of factors can influence future DTR, in either a positive (bad) direction, or in a negative (good) direction. There is no way to know how these factors will actually play out. If there were, then we would be able to make actual preditions. As it is, we are left only with the ability to say “If Ebola continues to spread at the same rate it has been spreading for the past x number of days (or months), then this is approximately how many people who will have contracted the disease as of this particular date in the future.” Not ideal, for sure, but still quite useful to understand the seriousness of the situation.

I have validated the model based on actual data by calculating the DTR for various periods of time and comparing the model’s projections with what actually happened in subsequent periods. This is the same concept that is being used by epidemiologists at CDC and elsewhere. It is a valid method, within the constraints I have mentioned above. My model has been completely in line with projections I have seen quoted in the mainstream news. It works quite well. If anything, my model’s projections are a bit more conservative than some projections you may have seen in the mainstream media. I just take them out further than you have seen in other places.

That being said, the following projections are based on the Daily Transmission Rate (DTR) from June 1 through September 10, the last date for which I have data.

The first set of numbers represents the projected number of Ebola cases from the actual numbers reported:
*********************************************************
Projection Parameters
*********************************************************
Start Date: 6/1/2014
End Date: 9/10/2014
Reported cases represent 100% of the true epidemic size
Daily Transmission Rate (DTR): 1.00422415489918
*********************************************************

cdc projections

The second set of numbers represents the projected number of Ebola cases if only 75% of actual cases have been reported:
*********************************************************
Projection Parameters
*********************************************************
Start Date: 6/1/2014
End Date: 9/10/2014
Reported cases represent 75% of the true epidemic size
Daily Transmission Rate (DTR): 1.00422415489918
*********************************************************

cdc projections 2

The research models project between 1.1 Million to 2.3 Million people will be dead from Ebola by next year.

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