Ebola and Hazmat Suits: Do the Numbers

Many news reports predict that there will be more than a million people infected with Ebola in West Africa alone by year’s end.

Joel Achenbach, Lena H. Sun and Brady Dennis report in the Washington Post:

The number of Ebola cases in West Africa has been doubling about every three weeks. There is little evidence so far that the epidemic is losing momentum.

“The speed at which things are moving on the ground, it’s hard for people to get their minds around. People don’t understand the concept of exponential growth,” said Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (snip)

“The virus is moving on virus time; we’re moving on bureaucracy or program time,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “The virus is actually picking up the pace. Even as we add resources, we get farther behind.”

Let’s just assume that treatment of each infected person requires care by, say, five people---maybe it’s four, maybe it’s many more.

Nevertheless, each person requires a hazmat suit.

Hazmat suits are disposed of after one use.

That means that 5,000,000 suits will be required each 8-hour shift.  That’s 15,000,000 per day---in Africa alone.

That’s 450,000,000 per month.

What’s going to happen when, as some predict, there are thousands of infected people elsewhere in the world by then?

What happens when we run out of hazmat suits?

What happens when we run out of ways to dispose of all those used hazmat suits?

And soiled linen?

And IVs?

And cleaning supplies?

And people to monitor those people who had contact with the infected?

Just askin’.

The author is retired, his profile may be found on LinkedIn, and he may be argued with at bilschan@hotmail.com.

Many news reports predict that there will be more than a million people infected with Ebola in West Africa alone by year’s end.

Joel Achenbach, Lena H. Sun and Brady Dennis report in the Washington Post:

The number of Ebola cases in West Africa has been doubling about every three weeks. There is little evidence so far that the epidemic is losing momentum.

“The speed at which things are moving on the ground, it’s hard for people to get their minds around. People don’t understand the concept of exponential growth,” said Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (snip)

“The virus is moving on virus time; we’re moving on bureaucracy or program time,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “The virus is actually picking up the pace. Even as we add resources, we get farther behind.”

Let’s just assume that treatment of each infected person requires care by, say, five people---maybe it’s four, maybe it’s many more.

Nevertheless, each person requires a hazmat suit.

Hazmat suits are disposed of after one use.

That means that 5,000,000 suits will be required each 8-hour shift.  That’s 15,000,000 per day---in Africa alone.

That’s 450,000,000 per month.

What’s going to happen when, as some predict, there are thousands of infected people elsewhere in the world by then?

What happens when we run out of hazmat suits?

What happens when we run out of ways to dispose of all those used hazmat suits?

And soiled linen?

And IVs?

And cleaning supplies?

And people to monitor those people who had contact with the infected?

Just askin’.

The author is retired, his profile may be found on LinkedIn, and he may be argued with at bilschan@hotmail.com.