October 20, 2014

A Sane Man Speaks on Ebola: "If West Africa is a gas can that was waiting for a match, the rest of Central Africa is a gasoline tanker waiting for a match, and nobody anywhere has a Plan B for what happens if this gets out further...."

This is the most honest and most lucid 28 minutes on the status of Ebola on the Planet Earth at this moment that exists today.

It is summed up at Raconteur Report: Ebola: This Is What Science Sounds Like

Highlight thoughts:

1) "The more I study about Ebola, the less I know about it."

2) "Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled."
(Tom Frieden, Anthony Fauci, call your office.")

3) Everything we know about Ebola so far is based on a total of 2400 patients from the past24 outbreaks over 40 years. the longest set of generations has been 5. (For reference, we are at 9000-20000 patients, and we're on generation 20-25, this time around).

4) People are never frightened by statements like "I don't know, but this is what I'm doing to learn." But they do get scared if you tell them A or B with certainty, and it doesn't happen; or if dueling experts tell you A and Z simultaneously.

5) We don't know what will really work. We should try everything we can. @ 9:46 "I believe the only thing we can do today is continue to try the treatment bed approach, to try to do as much as we can to isolate infected individuals,and quarantine and so forth...we've gotta do what we can."

6) It's time to reconsider our response, and if we hadn't been so dogmatic about things we didn't know, that wouldn't be so hard.

7) There's no Plan "B". If West Africa is a gas can that was waiting for a match, the rest of Central Africa is a gasoline tanker waiting for a match, and nobody anywhere has a Plan B for what happens if this gets out further, and they're not even thinking about it. We need to start thinking about those answers now. Can we fight it on two fronts if it gets out? We can't even fight it on one front now.

8) I believe we can have an effective vaccine; but there's a big difference between getting a vaccine, and actually how and where we're going to make it, how we're going to get it there, andwho's going to get it into Africans now. We need to imagine that Kinshasa is on fire tomorrow, and do all of these things at the same time, not doing one after the other.

9) We have a problem with couching things in certainty for which certainty does not exist.

10) Some Ebola patients don't present with fever, ever. Now is the time to tell people that, instead of waiting until that explodes, and the media asks you "Why didn't you tell us the complete truth?"

11) Aerosols are created, and research has indicated that with Ebola, airborne transmission has been observed between laboratory animal species. We shouldn't not tell people about this, because top Ebola virologists have studied this, seen it, and are very concerned about the possibility. What are we going to do ("Plan B") if we do have an airborne transmission, and we suddenly have a reason to be very concerned about airplane cabin transmission? We need to start making that plan before it's a problem.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at October 20, 2014 8:52 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

We have seen airborne ebola.

It looks much like an A-300

Posted by: itor at October 20, 2014 9:11 PM

My God, common sense. It only seems reasonable that it would come from a guy from the Midwest, doesn't it? The real thread that arises in his recounting of the reactions to scientific discovery is that whoever decides these things opts over and over to treat the public like children, because "You're scaring people." It shouldn't be a surprise that the most information-centric society in history is daily proving itself to be the most childlike and naive. Whole generations, and increasingly whole races, are actively choosing to live their lives as tall toddlers.

Maybe the most responsible thing that any communications media could consider would be daily messages consisting of several hours of

"You're All Gonna Die, Kids. Grow The Fuck Up."

And now a word from our sponsors.

Posted by: Rob De Witt at October 20, 2014 11:00 PM

This guy is the real thing. Nowadays he mostly does consulting and research, but he used to run Minnesota's version of CDC. And he was very good at it. Remember a few years ago, when there was a food poisoning outbreak that was thought to be related to produce? CDC worked on it for two weeks and still had no clue as to the source. Then there were a couple of Minnesota cases, and his group went at it. They traced the bug down to the particular farm in Mexico in about 2 1/2 *days.*

Posted by: Gordon at October 21, 2014 1:57 AM

And this man is not the "Ebola Czar", why?

Posted by: tripletap at October 21, 2014 6:15 AM

Tripletap: uh, he's not because he has three strikes against him:

1- he's White;
2- he's flyover conservative;
3- he knows what he is talking about and is capable.

Posted by: chasmatic at October 21, 2014 6:22 AM

Also, tripletap, he is set in his old-fashioned way of treating other people like adults: giving them solid facts and letting them make their own decisions. This wouldn't work for Obama, his machine exists to massage the people towards the One True Utopia, not to react appropriately to events.

Posted by: raincityjazz at October 21, 2014 1:04 PM