CDC Reports New Marburg OutbreakVirus.  Covid 2.0?


by David Reavill

Because of the simultaneous outbreak of Marburg virus in two countries nearly 1,800 miles apart, the C.D.C. and W.H.O. fear that there may be widespread infections throughout this portion of Africa.

This past weekend, arguably, the two most powerful and influential organizations in the world leaped into action. They are the American Center for Disease Control and the International World Health Organization. Indeed, these two have impacted our lives, you and me, over these last couple of years more than any other.

We’ve learned that when these two swing into action, as they may be doing now, they can change the world. And that’s not much of an exaggeration. When the C.D.C. and WHO recommended self-isolation and shutting down “non-essential” businesses, America went into a tailspin. As measured by the G.D.P., our economy dropped by nearly a third in one quarter during that disastrous second quarter of 2020. That’s a more rapid decline than even the Great Depression of the 1930s. And it was a clear demonstration of these two agencies’ power.

And we’re still feeling the effects of the WHO/CDC lockdowns. Supply chains have yet to recover fully and are nowhere near as efficient and smooth-running as before the quarantines.

Over the past seven weeks, there have been reports of people infected with the  Marburg virus Disease, or M.V.D., in Equatorial Guinea And Tanzania. This is the first time either of these countries has reported this infection among their population.

The Marburg virus is one of two virus strains that can cause Hemorrhagic Fever and is considered highly infectious and potentially deadly. Because of the simultaneous outbreak in two countries nearly 1,800 miles apart, the C.D.C. and W.H.O. fear that there may be widespread infections throughout this portion of Africa.

Responding to this threat, the WHO and C.D.C. flew teams of healthcare professionals and researchers to Tanzania and Guinea this weekend to deal with the crisis. Adding their voice to the discussion, GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, has warned that outbreaks of Marburg are increasing in frequency and geography.

And just like that, the three principal managers of the Covid-19 Pandemic focused once again on a potential continental, if not yet global, health threat. It’s easy to see the parallels between the Covid Virus and the Marburg Virus.

Interestingly both have, as a principal vector, Bats. That’s right. Those funny little creatures carry both types of virus. Research indicates that Marburg is transmittable among humans. And both Covid and Marburg are potentially deadly.

You may remember that Covid emerged in the Autumn and gained momentum during the Winter, a prime time for the emergence of virus infections. Although both Tanzania and Guinea are close to the Equator, both are south and are entering Autumn.

The one thing that distinguishes Marburg is that it is relatively rare. In the 50 years of the most recent Marburg reports of death, fewer than 450 people worldwide have perished from the disease, including this latest outbreak. Current reports are that fewer than 15 people have died.

Because Marburg is so rare, it has been challenging to determine how deadly the disease is. WHO reports that the mortality rate is between 24% and 90% of the people who come down with Marburg succumb. That’s a gap wide enough to drive a truck through. As any statistician will tell you: that’s saying we don’t have a clue. On the one hand, if the mortality rate is 24%, it’s not deadly. However, at 90%, that’s among the most lethal known infections.

It bothers me that they chose the 90% mortality rate in reading some newspaper articles. They are certainly not “following the science.” Science says, “we’re not sure.”

So there you have it. A rare disease has emerged from Africa, the Marburg virus. Fewer than 50 people have been infected, and fewer than 15 have died. Finally, scientists are not able to predict its mortality rate.

But to understand where we’re going with this disease, it is equally, if not more important, to watch the reaction of the “managers,” the WHO and C.D.C. Both groups have sent Medical Response Teams to each country, Tanzania and Guinea.

Neither country invited them or felt they needed the help of the WHO or C.D.C. With fewer than 50 patients in the two countries, it seems like they would be fine without extra health staff.

But if there is one thing that the Covid Experience taught us, it is that once the managers take over, they have complete control.

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