New Ebola cases in West Africa could explode to nearly 100,000 — even as close to 200,000 — by the end of the year, according to a new study.
If the virus were to continue at the current transmission rate of 1.4 to 1.7 people for every new person infected, West Africa could gain 77,181 to 277,124 more cases by the end of 2014, Gerardo Chowell-Puente, a researcher at Arizona State University, told the Arizona Republic on Friday.
“The above scenario is highly unlikely as the intervention response is definitely improving,” he said.
But to illustrate how rapidly the epidemic is surging, The New York Times reported Friday that earlier predictions of 20,000 cases in a year had now worsened to projections of 20,000 a month. The fatality rate of Ebola is now somewhere between 70 and 90 percent, meaning most of those cases represent projected deaths.
Lone Simonsen, a research professor of global health at George Washington University, told the Times that estimates by the World Health Organization seemed conservative and the higher projections more reasonable.
“The final death toll may be far higher than any of those estimates unless an effective vaccine or therapy becomes available on a large scale or many more hospital beds are supplied,” she told the Times in an email.