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Cost of Ebola for West Africa far lower than once feared

An Ebola care team in LiberiaAn Ebola care team in Liberia
An Ebola care team in LiberiaCourtesy of Firestone

An aggressive response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa has reduced a massive $32.6 billion economic tab initially forecast by the World Bank, a top official at the organization said Wednesday.

Francisco Ferreira, the World Bank’s chief economist, said at a lecture in Johannesburg that the outbreak’s total financial toll in the region could fall between $3 billion and $4 billion, according to Reuters. Ferreira pointed to successful efforts to contain the disease in some West African countries as a sign that the World Bank’s worst-case scenario is unlikely. But, he also warned that Ebola could still spread if those efforts are not maintained.

“It has not gone to zero because a great level of preparedness and focus is still needed,” Ferreira said, according to Reuters.

In its latest report on the global Ebola epidemic, the World Health Organization counted 5,177 deaths out of 14,413 reported cases of the disease. Liberia has seen the most deaths by far, at greater than 2,800, followed by Sierra Leone and Guinea at more than 1,000 each. The United States has had four reported cases of the disease and one confirmed death.

This year’s outbreak has affected businesses in West Africa and worldwide. A number of airline stocks dipped last month following reports that a potentially-infected woman had flown from Cleveland to Dallas on Frontier Airlines. Meanwhile, the stock market in general suffered in October, in part due to investor concerns over the spread of the disease.