Dec 4th-7th new cases: Liberia – 46, Sierra Leone – 262, Guinea – 100. Rate: 102/day. Total: 17988

Reported Deaths: 6433
For comparison, the previous 4-day periods:
Nov 30th-3rd: 128/day
Nov 26th-29th: 129/day
Nov 22nd-25th: 129/day
Nov 18th-21st: 120/day
Nov 14th-17th: 122/day
Nov 10th-13th: 165/day
Nov 6th-9th: 185/day
Nov 2nd-5th: 115/day
Oct 29th-1st: 115/day
Oct 25th-28th: 146/day
Oct 21st-24th: 107/day
Oct 17th-20th: 168/day
Oct 13th-16th: 127/day
Oct 9th-12th: 130/day
Oct 5th-8th: 132/day
Oct 1st-4th: 124/day
Sept 27th-30th: 138/day
Sept 23rd-26th: 129/day
Sept 19th-22nd: 137/day
Sept 15th-18th: 130/day
Sept 11th-14th: 124/day
Sept 7th-10th: 127/day
Sept 3rd-6th: 105/day
Aug 30th-2nd: 104/day
Aug 26th-29th: 101/day
Aug 22nd-25th: 101/day
Aug 18th-21st: 90/day
Aug 14th-17th: 51/day
… Either similar rate to 51/day or smaller for all earlier periods.

Notes:
All affected countries are included in the totals for reported cases and deaths. These are only the reported confirmed/probable/suspected cases. In addition, the reported deaths exclude thousands of known events that took place outside hospitals, which is especially true with respect to the numbers from Sierra Leone.
It appears that projections based off the reported numbers may have been significantly skewed upwards due to the reality that the reported numbers better reflected the increase in the response effort, and not the increase in the outbreak growth.
Guinea’s enduring caseload does not bode well for West Africa. It indicates that it is very difficult to actually eliminate the disease from an extensive region that has been thoroughly saturated with infections. The possibility of an endemic prevalence of Ebola until a vaccination is found, if found, does seem more and more likely. This scenario would mean that we will continue to see sustained rates of >>100 new cases per day until a vaccine, if found, is widely distributed, which likely won’t be the case until late 15Q2 at the earliest.
The next 4 days will be important for Mali, which will likely be when and if any new cases resulted from those infected by the index patient from Guinea. Despite the high CFR, which suggests a lacking health care system or contact tracing effort, the lack of secondary cases from those infected by the index case is promising.
Sierra Leone’s cumulative case total has “officially” surpassed Liberia’s.
The drop in Liberia’s caseload will be very meaningful if the next 4-day report is as minimal as the last few, since it’ll have been more than 21 days since the last time the country reported over 25 cases per day.
Forecast:
Steep drop in Sierra Leone cases will likely drive the next 4-day period rate down to 100-110/day, again.

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Dan Mullin is an active writer and editor for the Pluto Daily who covered the 2014 Ebola Outbreak. Mullin attended the Wake Forest School of Medicine before leaving to pursue his lifelong science goal of allowing humans to live forever via a computer/brain transfer.