NEW YORK – An econometric simulation model based on the assumption the World Health Organization and others will be unable to control the Ebola outbreak in West Africa predicts 1.2 million people will die from the disease in the next six months.

Six months is the minimum time the WHO projects will be necessary to contain the epidemic.

In his analysis, econometrics research assistant Francis Smart at Michigan State University took seriously the conclusions of Canadian researchers who proved the strain of Ebola in the current West African epidemic could go airborne.

The Ebola virus could be transmitted between humans through breathing, Smart says.

In developing the model, Smart began with WHO’s Aug. 28 statement that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa could afflict more than 20,000 people before it is brought under control.

“This [estimate of 20,000] assumes full international backing for an intervention to control the deadly outbreak,” he wrote. “Failure to support the WHO’s plan presumably would cause the disease to continue to spread in a similar manner as it already has.”

He continued: “At first a figure as high as 20,000 seems exaggerated, especially when looking just at the number of 3,000 cases reported the same day as the announcement. However, I believe that this estimate is vastly too small and is entirely based on an effective and well-funded international relief mission.”

Using contrary assumptions, Smart came to a dramatically different conclusion.

“Using a projection from all the WHO reports to date (Sept. 5), I calculate that if the disease continues to spread at the rate it currently is then we will have more than 20,000 cases by October 24. The report states that it will likely take six to nine months in order to stop the epidemic. However, if nothing changes and the epidemic continues to rage as it currently does, then my projections estimate that as many as 4.7 million people will have been infected and 1.2 million will have already died.”

He argues the projections are possible, considering the population of Liberia is over 4 million, with Guinea at 10 million and Sierra Leone at 6 million.

With these numbers, he argues the real question becomes: “Do we think the ability of Liberia and the other afflicted nations to control the spread of Ebola will increase, decrease or remain the same over time?”

Analyzing the data, he concluded Liberia is significantly behind Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria in the ability to diagnose, isolate and treat Ebola victims.

“This and the well-known lack of medical facilities suggests to me that as the crisis escalates the ability of Liberia to maintain any sense of order and with it any hope of controlling the spread of the disease is likely to degrade,” he said. “If this is the case, then it is quite possible that even this horrifying projection is an underestimate of the pain and carnage likely to result from this outbreak.”

Smart’s analysis is consistent with WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan’s current assessment of the outbreak. In a media teleconference Friday conducted from Geneva, she said not a single hospital bed is available in Liberia for any new Ebola infected individuals.

The lack of facilities condemns newly infected Ebola victims in Liberia to remain on the streets or return to their home communities, dramatically increasing the likelihood additional individuals will become infected through physical contact.

On Thursday, WND reported Dr. Peter Piot, the co-discoverer of the Ebola virus, in an editorial published in Science magazine, argued the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has created a “perfect storm.” He pointed to dysfunctional health services as the result of decades of war, low public trust in government and Western medicine, traditional beliefs, denials about the practice or the existence of the virus and burial practices that include contact with contagious Ebola-infected corpses.

Piot was extremely critical of the current international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. He charged the governments there and the international community “have been slow to act in a way commensurate to a major threat to health, economies and societal stability.”

He pointed out it took nearly four months after the first patient died in December 2013 before the outbreak was confirmed as being caused by the Ebola virus. The WHO and concerned governments waited until August before declaring the epidemic a public health emergency, despite multiple warnings by Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders.

Smart’s calculations led him to urge health officials worldwide to use every medical resource available to contain and restrict the spread of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

“It is extremely foolish to think that any nation is immune to this disease. So far, in the entire history of Ebola outbreaks up until the present, less than 10,000 people have been infected,” he wrote.

“However, if my projections are anywhere close to accurate, then the number of infected people are going to be much higher than has ever occurred previously. This will create many more habitats for which the virus can possible mutate new traits that could increase its transmission rate.”

In conclusion, he said the possibility the Ebola virus could go airborne would significantly increase its ability to be transmitted.

“The possibility of it becoming airborne could result in a global spread of the disease resulting in unprecedented number of deaths world wide it is more than prudent to heavily invest in controlling the number of new patients infected by this disease,” he wrote.

He also noted the disease, even if it does not mutate to go airborne, has transmitted rapidly, even among health workers.

“These health workers should have known how to control the spread of the disease and prevent infection. Do we really expect that if the disease were to enter any other nation on Earth that the general population is going to be better prepared to protect themselves than the specialists who have already fallen victim to this disease?”

His conclusion was meant to be alarming.

“Thus, it is imperative that we do everything within our power to control the spread of this terrible disease,” he stressed.

“Even if my model only has a 10 percent chance of being accurate over the next six months, we would be extremely foolish to risk not responding to this outbreak with every resource within reason humanity can muster.”

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