AP – Ebola spreads to major Congo city as vaccines a concern

This is not good news.

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — The second-largest Ebola outbreak in history has spread to a major city in eastern Congo, as health experts worry whether the stock of an experimental vaccine will stand up to the demands of an epidemic with no end in sight.
Butembo, with more than 1 million residents, is now reporting cases of the deadly hemorrhagic fever. That complicates Ebola containment work already challenged by rebel attacks elsewhere that have made tracking the virus almost impossible in some isolated villages…

The outbreak declared on Aug. 1 is now second only to the devastating West Africa outbreak that killed more than 11,300 people a few years ago. There are currently 471 Ebola cases, of which 423 are confirmed, including 225 confirmed deaths, Congo’s health ministry said late Thursday.
Without the teams that have vaccinated more than 41,000 people so far, this outbreak could have already seen more than 10,000 Ebola cases, the health ministry said .

All the outbreaks before were contained in small villages and in remote areas. Even so, the last one killed over eleven thousand people during a very unusually long outbreak. And the number of death tells us it has a 50% mortality on those affected which is, believe it or not, better numbers that history records. Still, the possibility that Ebola hitting a major city and wiping out half the inhabitants is not a nice consideration. Now comes the question: How is it being spread? Let us pray it has not done the jump to airborne.

About the only good bit of information is that a vaccine has been developed by Evil Pharma but unfortunately they say they do not have enough to make a dent. IRRC to achieve herd immunity, you need at least half the population vaccinated.

This is by far the largest deployment of the promising but still experimental Ebola vaccine, which is owned by Merck. The company keeps a stockpile of 300,000 doses, and preparing them takes months.

“We are extremely concerned about the size of the vaccine stockpile,” WHO’s emergencies director, Dr. Peter Salama, told the STAT media outlet in an interview this week, saying 300,000 doses is not sufficient as urban Ebola outbreaks become more common.

And we have not heard yet from the Anti-Vaxxers saying that the consequences of the vaccine are worse than dying of Ebola. Apparently painfully shitting your internal organs in a mixture of blood and mucus before dying is preferable option.

Let’s pray this strand reaches its natural cycle ASAP.

5 Replies to “AP – Ebola spreads to major Congo city as vaccines a concern”

  1. I think I saw some report of local terrorists attacking the medical volunteers who were trying to stop the spread of Ebola. I don’t remember what excuse they gave for that particular act of evil.

  2. IIRC, the threshold for herd immunity depends on how virulent a pathogen is and how it’s spread. The number I hear for flu, measles, etc. (that used to be common childhood illnesses) is ~95-97%. Then again, those are airborne and highly contagious, so the number is probably lower for non-airborne disease, especially with good sanitation practices.

    Also, you may call me an anti-vaxxer if you like (we don’t vaccinate our children), but the “the consequences of the vaccine are worse than dying” is a strawman. Nobody credibly says that, even among anti-vaxxers.

    What we do say is: most once-common childhood illnesses are not serious or life-threatening, especially with modern medicine; the human body develops a stronger and longer-lasting immunity from the actual disease than from the vaccine; and the vaccines are manufactured with chemicals (used as preservatives, usually) that have no business in the human body and carry their own health risks. The professionals never tell you those health risks – if you ask they minimize or deny them – but given the right genetic sequence they carry a clear non-zero risk of full-blown autism. (Our kids have this particular gene, so it’s an issue for us. YMMV. One of our former foster kids has the gene, too, and his personality did a complete 180 two days after getting the chicken pox vaccine – he is now autism-spectrum, and will be for the rest of his days.)

    Having witnessed both sides first-hand, we’re choosing against risking a lifetime of emotional and developmental disorders, rather than potentially avoiding a three-day fever and itchy rash (the chicken pox vaccine is only ~70% effective anyway, most kids who get chicken pox were vaccinated for it – and oh-by-the-way our kids have all had chicken pox and are immune, the doctors know they’ve had it, but they still want to inject the vaccine anyway – why?).

    If the choice was between vaccinating or risking a 50% chance of HEMORRHAGIC DEATH, of course we’d vaccinate, but even that’s a false dichotomy. For non-airborne diseases, with a fair amount of preparation, it’s possible to quarantine your family until it passes, or – better yet – leave.

    On top of that, vaccines usually take 4-6 weeks to fully develop immunity. What that means is, if an epidemic is already under way, it’s largely too late to vaccinate. Vaccination is not the immediately-effective talisman it’s sold as. I’m not saying they shouldn’t try – quite the contrary, especially for something like ebola – but good decisions are based in facts, and the reality is some of the people they vaccinate will be exposed to the live virus before their immunity develops and they’ll get sick (and some will die), vaccine or no.

    Just my $0.02.

    1. I grew up in a time and place where measles, mumps, and chicken pox were “childhood diseases” — everyone expected to get one around elementary school age, you’d just be home for a week and that’s that. But we’d get vaccinated for polio, and pox, and tetanus, because those things are way more dangerous.

      That said, I don’t know that there is any evidence of a link between vaccination and autism. I do know that there are plenty of actors and lawyers pushing the notion, but that is not evidence.

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