NOV. 3, 2014-. As the Ebola crisis unfolded in West Africa over the spring and summer, public health experts began calling for speedy international intervention to stop the spread of the disease. The New York Times () developed an interactive model based on C.D.C. data from Liberia and Sierra Leone to examine the impact of earlier or later intervention.
Large-scale intervention did not begin until late August and early September, and C.D.C. models suggests that by then it was too late to stop the epidemic from killing tens of thousands of people — and perhaps many more — by the end of the year. Had successful interventions been started much earlier, the total number of cases would have remained below 5,000.
The crucial factor in containing Ebola is an effective quarantine protocol. If that does not happen, the number of cases shoots up rapidly. “In this case, lack of speed kills,” said Martin Meltzer, the lead author of the C.D.C.’s paper.