Blogs: The Buzz

Are Americans Overreacting to the Ebola Virus?

The Buzz

That being said, Ebola is more virulent than SARS. The average case fatality rate for Ebola is around 50 percent, much higher than SARS (9.6 percent). Ebola was first reported as early as 1976 but, as my colleague Laurie Garrett noted, there are still myths surrounding the virus, including its very nature, the risk it poses, and the effective means of preventing transmission. A new study released last week suggests that Ebola patients could still be contagious after three-week quarantine (the period recommended by the World Health Organization). The mishandling of the Ebola crisis by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (which has been consistently ranked the most trusted federal agency) further erodes public confidence in the U.S. disease surveillance and response capacity. Indeed, the widespread witnessing of healthcare workers who were unable to protect themselves from infection perpetuated a highly exaggerated sense of public risk. In the words of Jessica Stern, an expert on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction at Harvard University, when dealing with an unfamiliar disease, “We respond to the likelihood of death in the event the disease is contracted, rather than the compound probability of contracting the disease and succumbing to its effects.”

Such “dreaded risks” generate fear and panic at a level that is disproportionate to the disease-caused morbidity and mortality. Indeed, major epidemics have historically produced significant worry, anxiety, fear, panic, and even mass hysteria in the affected countries. The fear and panic could place further constraints on government capacity to tackle the public health emergency. Worse, the associated social distancing measures, in conjunction with the government anti-Ebola interventions, could have substantial negative economic impacts in the United States. It is estimated that adverse demand shock caused by SARS cost China 0.5 percent of its GDP in 2003. Americans may be overreacting to the threat of Ebola, but that overreaction is understandable. When planning further Ebola control measures, the Obama administration has to seriously take this fear factor into account.

The following article first appeared in CFR’s blog Asia Unbound here.

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The Complexity of Russia

The Buzz

That being said, Ebola is more virulent than SARS. The average case fatality rate for Ebola is around 50 percent, much higher than SARS (9.6 percent). Ebola was first reported as early as 1976 but, as my colleague Laurie Garrett noted, there are still myths surrounding the virus, including its very nature, the risk it poses, and the effective means of preventing transmission. A new study released last week suggests that Ebola patients could still be contagious after three-week quarantine (the period recommended by the World Health Organization). The mishandling of the Ebola crisis by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (which has been consistently ranked the most trusted federal agency) further erodes public confidence in the U.S. disease surveillance and response capacity. Indeed, the widespread witnessing of healthcare workers who were unable to protect themselves from infection perpetuated a highly exaggerated sense of public risk. In the words of Jessica Stern, an expert on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction at Harvard University, when dealing with an unfamiliar disease, “We respond to the likelihood of death in the event the disease is contracted, rather than the compound probability of contracting the disease and succumbing to its effects.”

Such “dreaded risks” generate fear and panic at a level that is disproportionate to the disease-caused morbidity and mortality. Indeed, major epidemics have historically produced significant worry, anxiety, fear, panic, and even mass hysteria in the affected countries. The fear and panic could place further constraints on government capacity to tackle the public health emergency. Worse, the associated social distancing measures, in conjunction with the government anti-Ebola interventions, could have substantial negative economic impacts in the United States. It is estimated that adverse demand shock caused by SARS cost China 0.5 percent of its GDP in 2003. Americans may be overreacting to the threat of Ebola, but that overreaction is understandable. When planning further Ebola control measures, the Obama administration has to seriously take this fear factor into account.

The following article first appeared in CFR’s blog Asia Unbound here.

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The GOP Must Stop Legal Birthright

The Buzz

That being said, Ebola is more virulent than SARS. The average case fatality rate for Ebola is around 50 percent, much higher than SARS (9.6 percent). Ebola was first reported as early as 1976 but, as my colleague Laurie Garrett noted, there are still myths surrounding the virus, including its very nature, the risk it poses, and the effective means of preventing transmission. A new study released last week suggests that Ebola patients could still be contagious after three-week quarantine (the period recommended by the World Health Organization). The mishandling of the Ebola crisis by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (which has been consistently ranked the most trusted federal agency) further erodes public confidence in the U.S. disease surveillance and response capacity. Indeed, the widespread witnessing of healthcare workers who were unable to protect themselves from infection perpetuated a highly exaggerated sense of public risk. In the words of Jessica Stern, an expert on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction at Harvard University, when dealing with an unfamiliar disease, “We respond to the likelihood of death in the event the disease is contracted, rather than the compound probability of contracting the disease and succumbing to its effects.”

Such “dreaded risks” generate fear and panic at a level that is disproportionate to the disease-caused morbidity and mortality. Indeed, major epidemics have historically produced significant worry, anxiety, fear, panic, and even mass hysteria in the affected countries. The fear and panic could place further constraints on government capacity to tackle the public health emergency. Worse, the associated social distancing measures, in conjunction with the government anti-Ebola interventions, could have substantial negative economic impacts in the United States. It is estimated that adverse demand shock caused by SARS cost China 0.5 percent of its GDP in 2003. Americans may be overreacting to the threat of Ebola, but that overreaction is understandable. When planning further Ebola control measures, the Obama administration has to seriously take this fear factor into account.

The following article first appeared in CFR’s blog Asia Unbound here.

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Kobani: A Metaphor For the Contradictions Facing The West

The Buzz

That being said, Ebola is more virulent than SARS. The average case fatality rate for Ebola is around 50 percent, much higher than SARS (9.6 percent). Ebola was first reported as early as 1976 but, as my colleague Laurie Garrett noted, there are still myths surrounding the virus, including its very nature, the risk it poses, and the effective means of preventing transmission. A new study released last week suggests that Ebola patients could still be contagious after three-week quarantine (the period recommended by the World Health Organization). The mishandling of the Ebola crisis by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (which has been consistently ranked the most trusted federal agency) further erodes public confidence in the U.S. disease surveillance and response capacity. Indeed, the widespread witnessing of healthcare workers who were unable to protect themselves from infection perpetuated a highly exaggerated sense of public risk. In the words of Jessica Stern, an expert on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction at Harvard University, when dealing with an unfamiliar disease, “We respond to the likelihood of death in the event the disease is contracted, rather than the compound probability of contracting the disease and succumbing to its effects.”

Such “dreaded risks” generate fear and panic at a level that is disproportionate to the disease-caused morbidity and mortality. Indeed, major epidemics have historically produced significant worry, anxiety, fear, panic, and even mass hysteria in the affected countries. The fear and panic could place further constraints on government capacity to tackle the public health emergency. Worse, the associated social distancing measures, in conjunction with the government anti-Ebola interventions, could have substantial negative economic impacts in the United States. It is estimated that adverse demand shock caused by SARS cost China 0.5 percent of its GDP in 2003. Americans may be overreacting to the threat of Ebola, but that overreaction is understandable. When planning further Ebola control measures, the Obama administration has to seriously take this fear factor into account.

The following article first appeared in CFR’s blog Asia Unbound here.

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