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Takeaway: It gets worse in West Africa before it gets better, but the risk remains low for migration of ebola outside the current outbreak zone.

This note was originally published October 29, 2014 at 10:53 in Healthcare

Our call yesterday afternoon with Dr. Jeffery Shaman helped put the ongoing ebola outbreak into a realistic perspective. Below is the link to the materials, as well as our takeaways.

Materials: CLICK HERE 

Ebola In New York City; Should We Be Worried? [Key Takeaways From Our Call Yesterday] - ebola virus verge outbreak usa

Takeaways:

  • CDC reports new cases by country.  The rate of change drives forecasting models (with adjustments) and small changes matter.  The forecasting models Dr. Shaman uses are based on those used in weather modelling.  http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/case-counts.html
  • Before there is a change in the trajectory of the outbreak, we need to see a “massive influx” of equipment, care workers, and money (i.e. pictures of transport planes on TV) 
  • Things will get much worse in West Africa in the near term before we can contemplate the 12-18 months it will take to bring the ongoing outbreak under control.  This story will be around well into 2015.
  • The risk is low, but will rise, for migration of ebola out of West Africa.  This outbreak is unique in terms of the high population density and mobility versus the location of prior outbreaks.  Dr. Shaman included some interesting data on this topic.
  • Donate money to Doctors Without Borders; they seem to be the only ones who know what they are doing.   

ABOUT JEFFREY SHAMAN, PhD

Dr. Shaman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Colombia University, a junior faculty fellow of the Earth Institute, a faculty fellow of the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, and a member of the Center for Environmental Health in Northern Manhattan. He is also affiliated with the International Research Institute for Climate and Society.  Dr. Shaman received a BA in biology from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MA, M.Ph. and PhD in climate science from Columbia University. He was a NOAA post-­-doctoral fellow in climate and global change at Harvard University.

His research interests include: infectious disease, vector and pathogen ecology, health in the indoor and built environment, large-­-scale climate dynamics, the hydrologic cycle, and climate and disease forecast. Much of his present research focuses on developing model-­-inference systems for the forecast of infectious diseases, including influenza, West Nile virus and Ebola.