Thanks to Stephane Helleringer and Ian Mackay for tweeting the link to this post on Greg Laden's Blog: Has #Ebola Death Toll Surpassed Malaria in West Africa? Excerpt:
Using data from that malaria study and WHO’s Ebola data, we can make some comparisons. I’m including all the information so you can check my work.
Here we have data from Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. The population number and malaria deaths per year are both from the aforementioned study and pertain to 2012. Then I divided malaria deaths per year by 12 to get a monthly value. I’m more comfortable working in months than years because an Ebola outbreak is normally short lived, and the number of deaths changes dramatically from month to month.
Following this we have the total number of Ebola deaths per country (summed in the right hand column as are the above mentioned data) and the approximate number of months of the outbreak. Then, the total deaths divided by the number of months. This constitutes a low-ball estimate of deaths per month from Ebola for the given expanding outbreak. Here we can see that in the comparison between Malaria and Ebola, it is not clear that one is a greater threat than the other (142:92, 49:67, 145:144).
Then we have the August-only monthly number of deaths. Here we see that Ebola is huge compared to Malaria. So, back when people were saying “Malaria is worse,” in late July and early August, Ebola was starting to prove them wrong.
The last two numbers are calculated for all three countries combined. Here we are going out on a limb, and it is better statistically to crawl out on a thicker limb than a thinner limb. I made some estimates here, and those numbers conform to what is being talked about by WHO and others.
If Ebola continues to spread at its current rate the daily number of new cases could be between 150 and 300 by the beginning of January. I state these as low vs high estimates, but actually, they are both conservative.
Multiplying this by 30 days in a month, and dividing by 2 to approximate the ca 50% mortality rate, we have conservative numbers for Ebola that leave Malaria in the dust. Even if the doubling of estimated Malaria death rates should be doubled again, Ebola will be a bigger factor than Malaria.