COVID-19 vs Ebola: Strange Similarities

Persephone Ramirez

So far in 2021, we have seen a substantial improvement in finding a cure for COVID-19, and many of the pandemic guidelines being lifted. Having to endure this pandemic definitely feels strange and unknown, but this is not the first pandemic countries have had to deal with. In 2014-2016 there was an Ebola epidemic, before that in 1976, and thousands of people sadly died. The Ebola Virus is a virus that causes severe bleeding, organ failure, and can lead to an extremely painful death. Unfortunately, these deaths were not the only misfortune the Ebola epidemic caused; the communities affected by the virus were hit very badly, many of their economies are still recovering. The countries–arguably- most affected by the Ebola Virus outbreak are Liberia, Guinea, and  Sierra Leone. The outbreak resulted in many catastrophes, but the main ones being: a substantial loss in Gross domestic product (gdp) and higher unemployment rates. The outbreak overall cost billions. We are left to wonder if this will also happen again in the present time. 

“The overall impact of the Ebola crisis on Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone has been estimated at $2.8 billion.” (West Africa Ebola Crisis: Impact Update). Sierra Leone had the worst damage out of the other three countries; alone counting for $1.9 billion of the $2.8 billion estimate.  In Sierra Leone unemployment was also the worst of the three countries; 9,000 wage workers and 170,000 self-employed workers, outside of agriculture, were unemployed. In Liberia, there was a 40 percent decrease in those working, particularly high for women who were working pre-crisis. In Guinea, close to 10 percent of households withdrew their children from school; resulting in a spike of unemployment for educational staff. Although unemployment rates were a very heavy cause to the amount of estimated money of the three countries, it was not the only cause.  

The Ebola epidemic did not only cause a spike in unemployment rates, it resulted in a substantial loss in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well. Gross domestic product is a measure of the market value of all the final goods and services produced in a specific time period. According to West Africa Ebola Crisis: Impact Update, in Liberia during 2013 the GDP percentage was at 8.7%. But, due to the Ebola outbreak, the GDP percentage slowed down to 0.7 percent in 2014. This reflected the shocks of Ebola and lower commodity prices. In Guinea during 2015 the percentage was 0.1, compared to a pre-Ebola percentage of 4.0 percent. Services had very low growth, while mining contracted, and only agriculture displayed some resilience. In Sierra Leone GDP increased from 4.6  percent to 20.7 percent in 2014. This was accomplished by expanding iron ore production, the production of iron,  just as in 2013 when real GDP increased by 20.7 percent. Non-iron ore GDP growth in 2014 slowed incredibly because of the Ebola outbreak. It went to 0.8 percent, from 5.3 percent the previous year. Real GDP in 2015 is estimated to have contracted by -21.5 percent.

Not only did the Ebola Virus take thousands of lifes, it left the countries affected by the virus in a state of havoc. Sierra Leone, Libireas, and Guinea are only three of the seventeen West African countries affected by the Ebola Virus out-break, and those three countries’ impact alone are estimated to be $2.8 billion. Therefore, the Ebola Virus not only wreaked havoc on some people’s lives, it damaged the economy of the West African countries affected by the virus as well. The outcome of the Ebola Virus is extremely similar to how the COVID-19 outcome has been playing out; Thus leaving us to wonder if America and other countries will have the same economic discrepancies as these West African countries have had to endure.