Monday, October 20, 2014
Ebola: This Is What Science Sounds Like
This excerpt is 28 minutes on this Ebola outbreak that are worth your time if you want some straight shooting, from Michael Osterholm, speaking at CIDRAP of Oct. 14th (last Tuesday).
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.
If this guy was the head of the CDC, or at the very least, their communications director/official spokesperson, the level of intelligence and response on this, and the public perception about this, would have improved 1000%.
We DO NOT KNOW:
* where Ebola lives between outbreaks
* what vector gets it from that host to humans
* how it gets transmitted to or between humans
Everything we do "know" is based on less people than the number who had it as of August 18th, most of whom were dead before much could be learned.
The kind of scientific humility AND forethought Dr. Osterholm lays out in this talk is something sorely missed so far, and desperately needed in the discussion.
Even if we don't have the answers, guys like this ARE ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS, which is a vast improvement over the recent Clowncarnucopia Of Fail that's been on parade non-stop for the past 3+ weeks at every level of this crisis.
h/t to Anonymous commenter who posted the link to the vid.