Game theory of my ebola plan

…is fairly simple. There’s the risk of getting it, the mortality rate, and multiplication thereof. Most people try to minimize the former, whereas I’m minimizing the latter. This is because I presume the first factor is high in my case, because I’m working in healthcare alongside a staff that is 50% African, of whom half again are Liberian. If the shit gets out, it’s coming out of a Liberian community, and Africans do not believe in taking sick days. Anyway, this intuitively puts me well beyond the 99th percentile in terms of risk. If we’re expecting one in thirty to eventually get it, then my own risk is probably approaching unity. In such a case, it is only rational to focus my energies on the other factor.

One could reasonably ask why I do not change jobs. As things stand, I’ve been estimating a 10% chance of breakout (100% risk of infection if it happens), and probably 30-40% mortality (in my case). That means something like a 3-4% chance of ebola death in the next two months. Unfortunately, this assumes a rather static situation, and a relatively good chance of survival given a breakout. This would not be the case, as the very lowest classes would suffer disproportionately in the case of an epidemic, and the resulting economic turmoil. (As in all things, the weakest are hit hardest.) Because my resources do not allow me to saran wrap my home for a long period, I’d estimate 50% odds of infection with 90% mortality (because many others are infected at this point, healthcare being zero-sum). This is not a pretty enough picture to quit my job. It is like refusing to work anywhere outside of walking distance for fear of dying in a car crash (and comparable odds, in the long haul).

Luckily for rational types, we’re getting a better picture of the mortality rate, where the presence of intravenous fluid replacement is assumed. A bit worse than 50%. And fluid replacement is all you can really do, by the way. There is no treatment, no cure, no training. You just have to wait it out and hope the immune system can handle a novel African disease before the body gives up the ghost. I’m not expecting it to be a pleasant experience, but you have to expect this sort of thing in a world gone mad.

If the mortality rate is worse than expected, then the mortality rate in the absence of fluids is likely to be disproportionately worse as well. A number of people will face the time-tested question of whether to help their sick family members. The answer, in this case, is probably “yes”. If someone you’re living with has it, you have it too, and denial won’t help. Mortality rate for infected loners is probably 100%, or very close. Altruistic clans will muddle through with maybe 25-50% surviving members and immunity, whereas psychopathic clans (particularly the lower class) could be wiped out entirely, dying alone, one by one.


About Aeoli Pera

Maybe do this later?
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2 Responses to Game theory of my ebola plan

  1. Zeke says:

    With the latest confirmed infection, this is becoming more serious. Especially since the infected boarded an airplane and potentially let the virus skip a few chapters.

    I believe the mortality rate is being reported as 60-70%. I imagine the healthy and young population fare better, but still not enough that I’d be willing to take the risk. That leaves me with an isolationist strategy: stock up on necessities, avoid all contact with people and hold out as long as possible. I probably have enough in savings to not work for a length of time.

    Time to brush up on my hoarding skills. Maybe watch some “Doomsday Preppers” and take notes this time…

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      I wouldn’t suggest my strategy except in rare cases. Certainly not for yours. On the other hand, if it starts looking dangerous I would certainly suggest isolating your wife and child within the house for a while and staying away from them while you take care of business. No need to bring it home.

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