The United States will lead a $750 million effort to fight the worst Ebola outbreak in history, The Washington Post reported Monday. Up to 3,000 military personnel may be used in the fight against the disease — check out the White House fact sheet on the response.

We’ve compiled a partial list of the best longer stories on the Ebola outbreak so far. What are we missing? Let us know at, and we’ll add to this list.

In Vanity Fair, Jeffrey E. Stern investigates the origins of the current outbreak and traces it to Guinea near Sierra Leone:

“In Meliandou, bushmeat has long been a common source of food. As elsewhere in West Africa, hunters wade into the forest and come back with whatever they can find. Once, not so long ago, what they found was a rich and varied bounty: monkeys, antelope, squirrels. That has changed; the whole eco-system has re-arranged itself. After civil wars broke out in Liberia and Sierra Leone, refugees poured over the borders, and the population grew, even as a power struggle in Guinea took an economic toll. People started looking to the rich resource all around them: trees. Trees were felled to make way for farms or burned down for charcoal. Endless truckloads of timber were shipped to construction companies. The forest suffered another trauma as mining interests—the Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto, the omnipresent Chinese—pushed aggressively to exploit the country’s natural resources (bauxite mostly). As the forests disappeared, so too did the buffer separating humans from animals—and from the pathogens that animals harbor.”

Sheri Fink of The New York Times has a great look at how because of cuts, “much of the work of spotting outbreaks was left to desperately poor countries ill prepared for the task”:

“The Ebola epidemic has exposed gaping holes in the ability to tackle outbreaks in an increasingly interconnected world, where diseases can quickly spread from remote villages to cities housing millions of people.
The W.H.O., the United Nations agency assigned in its constitution to direct international health efforts, tackle epidemics and help in emergencies, has been badly weakened by budget cuts in recent years, hobbling its ability to respond in parts of the world that need it most. Its outbreak and emergency response units have been slashed, veterans who led previous fights against Ebola and other diseases have left, and scores of positions have been eliminated — precisely the kind of people and efforts that might have helped blunt the outbreak in West Africa before it ballooned into the worst Ebola epidemic ever recorded.”

Laurie Garret, a senior fellow for global health at the Council for Foreign Relations, won a Pulitzer for her coverage of the 1995 Ebola outbreak. In September, she participated in a briefing for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and emphasized the urgency of the situation:

“Nothing short of heroic, record-breaking mobilization is necessary at this late stage in the epidemic. Without it, I am prepared to predict that by Christmas, there could be up to 250,000 people cumulatively infected in West Africa. At least 30 nations around the world, I dare predict, will have had an isolated case gain entry inside their borders, and some will be struggling as Nigeria now is, tracking down all possibly exposed individuals and hoping to stave off secondary spread. ..
The great African economic miracle will be reversing, not just in the hard-hit countries but regionally, as the entire continent gets painted with the Ebola fear brush…Lawlessness will rise as Ebola claims the lives of police and law enforcement personnel, and terrified cops quit their jobs. State stability for hard-hit nations will be questionable, or nonexistent.”

Adam Nossiter of The New York Times examines how the Ebola crisis is unfolding in two distinct fashions:

“Inside the Ebola zone, the fear is based on a potent reality. Ebola kills about half its victims, the epidemic is so far unchecked, and the medical resources on the ground, largely sent in from elsewhere, are not keeping pace. In fact they are losing ground.
That truth is difficult for people in the West to grasp. The misapprehension is comprehensible, because one of the world’s deadliest viruses is afflicting the weakest, least-prepared societies in the world.”


“Outside the zone, hysteria over Ebola has led to the collective stigmatization of a big chunk of the African continent. Anybody coming from West Africa is suspected of carrying the disease. Inside the zone, life goes on, and people shop in markets — if not quite as normal, then at least as much so as human survival mechanisms will allow. Near the gates of the Ebola treatment center in Guéckédou, Guinea, for instance, where the epidemic started, a licentious-looking bar called the “Deuxième Bureau” — “Second Office,” a local reference to the house of a kept woman or mistress — was still welcoming customers in mid-July, even as dying Ebola patients were being ferried past.”

How can we push drug companies to develop drugs that won’t be sold en masse? “Diseases like malaria and tuberculosis, which together kill two million people a year,” Surowiecki writes, “have received less attention from pharmaceutical companies than high cholesterol.”

Surowiecki’s answer? Prizes:  

“The key is to reward companies for creating substantial public-health benefits. And the simplest way to do this would be to offer prizes for new drugs. [Kevin Outterson, a co-director of the Health Law program at Boston University ] describes one scenario: ‘The government would make a payment or a stream of payments to the company, and in exchange the company would give up the right to sell the product.’ The drug company would get paid, and would avoid all the expenses of trying to push a new product (which you don’t want with a last-resort antibiotic, anyway). Society would get a new drug, and public-health officials would be able to control how it was promoted and used.”

Todd Frankel has the story of Joseph Fair, a 37-year-old American in Sierra Leone who has dedicated his life to fighting Ebola.

“Fair has worked seven days a week, hunting for ways to curb the outbreak, at times begging international groups for staff and supplies. He is exhausted. He’s put on 15 pounds. He sent his girlfriend home to California months ago. Too dangerous here, he told her. He’s seen Sierra Leonean doctors and nurses — friends he’s known for years — get infected and die. He sweated out his own Ebola scare.
‘It’s like he was trying single-handedly to stop this outbreak,’ says Randal Schoepp, chief of the U.S. Army’s applied diagnostics branch at Fort Detrick, Md., who has worked with Fair in West Africa.”

More: What it’s like to cover Ebola. And the simple method used to screen for Ebola at airports.

Jina Moore of Buzzfeed has an excellent story about some heartbreaking inequities in the Ebola death toll.

“To families losing their loved ones, Ebola is a heartless killer. It demands what most people consider a ruthless response to suffering: distance. Its secret weapon is not the scientific mystery of its seven proteins. It’s love. It’s the human need to show compassion and care, and it’s killing Liberia’s women.
The Ministry of Health says fully 75% of the Ebola deaths it has counted are women, but it doesn’t release disaggregated mortality statistics. But Tolbert Nyenswah, the assistant minister of health who provided the estimate, agrees that whatever the number, women bear the biggest mortality burden of this disease. Culturally, they are expected to do the caretaking. ‘In this country,” he said, “men are bullshit.'”