1. How the failures of HIV-vaccine efforts ironically accelerated the development of the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and J&J vaccines.
When HIV-vax researchers realized that established methods weren't working, they pushed into wacky areas like … synthetic mRNA.
2. How BioNTech, Pfizer's partner, plans to use what it learned from the COVID vaccines to accelerate its efforts to design individualized cancer therapies by targeting the proteins associated with specific tumors
2. One answer to the Florida mystery—how did it have only avg mortality in an "open"ish economy with so many old people?—is that the public, and seniors in particular, used masks and distancing far more than DeSantis insisted.
Florida is being held up, by some, as proof that masks and distancing don't work, or are dramatically overrated.
One reason I think that's wrong is their impression of Florida's mask/distancing protocols is a caricature of the state's actual behavior.
It's not just the mass shootings. 2020 had the most gun deaths of any year in US history and was, on a per capita basis, the most violent year of this century. Why?
If you have a deep need for single-cause answers to complicated questions, definitely don't read this story, or any other story, about why crime rises and falls. There are things we know for sure about this surge of violence—and then there's a tug-of-war over interpretation
So, what we know. Violent crime surged by its highest rate in many decades to its highest level in many decades. Fatal shootings rose more than 40% in several cities, including
1. Liberals and a lot of public health experts were wrong:
They predicted COVID would specially ravage FL, given its YOLO policies and elderly population. But the state is still officially reporting fewer deaths-per-million than the national average and nearby states.
2. Conservatives are wrong:
There is a lot of chest-beating about how the Florida economy is kicking ass. But as far as I can tell, its economic performance is—kind of like its pandemic performance—much more *average* than the national narrative would make you think.
With more and faster tests, the U.S. would have benefited, at least a little, in almost every thinkable capacity: We would have had greater and faster epidemiological knowledge, less stringent lockdowns, a more open economy, and fewer overall deaths.
Different countries use a variety of spending, tax,and loan program. But the U.S. fiscal response was the 2nd highest in the world in January—larger than any European country—before counting then entire Biden relief bill.
There is an unhelpfully doom-pilled approach to Twitter, where the game isn't to figure out true stuff, but rather to sign on with one's most pessimistic and disappointed opinion about the world, irrespective of accuracy, then collect some commiseration tokens and peace.
i think it would help the discourse to have a more sophisticated theory of—and maybe a word for—instances when perceived cancellations create publicity and riches for the cancelled party
We have a Streisand Effect: efforts to remove information often ironically publicize that information
It needs a Cancel Culture Corollary: the perception of unfair cancellation often leads to more subscriptions, or purchases
what I need is a PhD student in Internet sociology to write the following dissertation asap: "Cancel Culture or Can-Sell Culture? On the Merchandization and Mendacity of Cultural Stigma in 21st Century America"
I think two somewhat related issues deserve amplification:
1) The surprisingly global decline of COVID cases 2) The possibility that these explainers are still staring into the fog of pandemic
The COVID retreat looks pretty global. Cases are falling in the U.S., and they're falling in Canada, and the UK. They're falling in Europe, and they're falling in Africa. They're even falling in .... South Africa.
I think that the 4 variables I analyzed—partial immunity, seasonality, behavior, and vaccination—together explain a great deal of why cases have declined in the U.S. so suddenly and why hospitalizations are likely to keep going down.
@PeterHotez: “If we don’t accelerate the pace of vaccinations, we’re looking at an apocalypse ... The first out-of-the-box thing I’d do right now is release the AstraZeneca vaccine."
2. Test "First Doses First"
@ashishkjha: “I am really anxious about the next two months ... The best argument against FDF is that it goes off script from what the clinical trials suggest. But one way to solve the data shortage is to get more data.”
One theme that's emerged from my reporting and writing recently across cash welfare, public health communication, and vaccine eligibility is that I don't think we have enough of an appreciation for the virtue of SIMPLICITY in public policy.
In economics, I think the last ten years have really taken a sledgehammer to the idea that, eg, complex nudges are always best for changing public behavior. The Obama WH learned you don't get credit for policies that are designed to be sneakily invisible.
“Follow the science” is practically a cliche now. But who do you trust when scientific research is saying two completely different things at once?
In the last six months, it’s become near-consensus that surface-transmission of COVID-19 is very rare and that our efforts should be focused on masks, distancing, and ventilation.
But there are still new studies claiming to show that the virus survives for ONE MONTH on surfaces
The scariest fomite studies use too much virus and set ideal conditions for its survival. It's like wanting to prove you can grow mangoes in Vermont, so you build a $1b greenhouse in Burlington to produce one edible mango and say "Hey, mangoes grow in Vermont! Science says!"
It looks like new hospitalizations have declined so quickly that it's opened up a huge disconnect with deaths.
Hospitalizations are down to late-November levels while deaths are still at mid-January levels.
Cross forces here:
1. Deaths lag hospitalizations by a few weeks, typically, which suggests we should see deaths start to really decline quickly.
2. New variants could push up cases/hospitalizations just as deaths plunge.
FWIW, any effect of the new variants on daily-case decline isn't face-smackingly obvious from glancing at the national 7-day average (which I forbid you from taking me to say that the new variants aren't a problem, bc they are)
The very emotional discussion right now about whether Twitter has the right to de-platform Trump should widen the lens and see that the list of corporations that essentially came to the same conclusion include such famous wokesters such as (checks notes) the PGA and Deutsche Bank
A debate about big tech's power and the rights of posters is overdue in DC, and tech firms identifying ideologies for cancellation is a dangerous path. But let's be clear about what's happening here: a widespread private sector blackout of an insurrectionist conspiracy-monger.
I'm sorry, as much as I care about freedom of speech and commerce, I just cannot bring myself to shed tears that Trump might struggle to build an MLM empire off of "you can still help me stop the steal by buying these frozen meats"
1. There is something ... interesting ... about the fact that evidence of expert infallibility is falling (recall: "masks don't work") at the same time that demand for infallible expertise is rising ("social media platforms should just delete everything that isn't true").
2. The Internet creates a kind of magic-eye theory of reality—you can find The Real Truth if you just look hard enough!—at the same time that real expertise is getting harder and harder to come by, because of rising knowledge burdens in science.
Once you see it—all politics (and esp. Trumpism) as the Suffering Olympics—it’s impossible to unsee.
Here’s Hawley, days after fist-pumping an insurrection attempt that killed several people. Basically: Biden criticized me in a speech that also mentioned Goebbels in a different context, so don’t forget who’s really suffering this week (hint: it’s me)
I wrote about “Hygiene Theater”—how restaurants, gyms, and subways have wasted millions of dollars on fancy cleaning plans to defeat a mostly airborne plague and made Americans more confused and unsafe in the process.
Percent saying people should wear masks in public:
All Americans: 70%
* GOP thinks only 71% of Dems support
** Democrats think only 30% of GOP supports
1. For a sharply polarized country, mask wearing is surprisingly popular. 2. There is a 24-point partisan gap in mask wearing. 3. Both sides underestimate the other party's position on masks. 4. Democrats' underestimation of GOP mask preferences is particularly large.
Anticipating the inevitable comments: Yes, this is a poll, not an ethnography.
A poll isn't going to tell you how many ppl are actually wearing masks properly. It's possible both parties are overstating their IRL mask behavior, but I don't know who's overstating it more.