Ebola Experts Warn of an African ‘Apocalypse’
At an emergency hearing in Washington on Thursday afternoon, major players in the fight against Ebola in West Africa addressed the outbreak that has stolen the lives of more than 900. Leaders from health agencies and humanitarian efforts addressed the need for increased support, as one called the current state of affairs in West Africa “apocalyptic.”
Rep. Christopher Smith, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, opened the hearing by urging the speakers to clear the air on a “grave issue” that has “gripped” the mass media for weeks. “We hope to gain a realistic understanding of what we’re up against while avoiding sensationalism,” he told the floor. Here are the takeaways:
The outbreak is getting worse.
It’s already an unprecedented outbreak, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden says, and the number of infected and killed by Ebola will likely soon outnumber all other Ebola outbreaks in the past 32 years combined. According to the CDC, there have already been more than 1,700 suspected and confirmed cases of Ebola in West Africa, and more than 900 deaths—numbers that Frieden later called “too foggy” to be definitive. Ken Isaacs, the vice president of Program and Government Relations for Samaritan’s Purse, painted an even bleaker picture. According to the World Health Organization, West Africa has counted 1,711 diagnoses and 932 deaths, already, which could represent only a small fraction of the true number. “We believe that these numbers represent just 25 to 50 percent of what is happening,” said Isaacs.