Several commentators have already predicted that there could be at least 500000 cases of Ebola by January 2015 however Bloomberg is reporting that the CDC is on the verge of releasing a report confirming the possibility. The report confirms a “worst case” scenario where no successful intervention is possible in the coming months resulting in the uncontrolled spread of the virus culminating in 550000 cases of the deadly disease by January.
To reach these numbers in a very simplistic manner we can apply a bit of thought to what we already know. The official confirmed case number is 5357 at the moment which is considered by most experts to be deflated number. Taking a simple view that the number is 2-3 times larger than reported, and assuming a doubling rate of 21 days which the current trend reflects, you can easily reach the numbers predicted. It is noteworthy that the doubling rate seems to be increasing or at the very least has not been accurately measured yet. The WHO has reported doubling rates between 2 weeks and 3 weeks.
With predictions as terrifying as these it is important to remember that they are mathematical models that often assume exponential growth will continue which is unlikely once you consider geography, intervention, blockades and of course the potential to improve treatments and education on the prevention of the disease. It is worth acknowledging that so far intervention in the affected regions has not slowed the spread of the disease and predictions like these have a role to play in understanding the potential scenario if intervention continues to fail.
The CDC report cited which is believed to contain these figures has not yet been finalized or released to the general public. However, Bloomberg is a credible news source and there are at least 2 ways to reach the same predictions for January mathematically by adjusting the case total for accuracy as shown or by lowering the doubling rate.