COVID topic vol 2

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jennypenny
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Re: COVID topic vol 2

Post by jennypenny »

Lemon wrote:
Wed Nov 18, 2020 3:41 pm
which is what politicians are for
I think this is where the real failing is. Scientists and other specialists are supposed to provide data (with context) to politicians. They might also be asked to advise on policy, but many different experts would be asked to do the same. Politicians are supposed to be the policy wonks who would take all of the recommendations from different advisors and devise effective policies -- policies that would also workable in the sense that they would know what they could sell to their constituencies, what compromises would need to be made to make sure the solutions weren't one-sided, etc.

There is a difference between science/fact/data and policy. Policy should be the domain of politicians, not scientists or science advisors. There has been too much crossover between science reporting and policy recommendations in public (I'm ignoring blatant debacles like the masks = bad, masks = good and just referring to basic information). Advisors should not be out in public making recommendations ... that should be done in private to politicians who are tasked with making policy. They can answer questions that clarify findings but once they cross the line into making policy recommendations, IMO they are out of their depth because they are only making recommendations based on their own field. I include all specialists in this criticism (economists, mental health professionals, educators, financial advisors, etc).

I think the lack of separation between science and policy is the biggest conundrum right now. It's understandable that scientists felt drawn into the void left by non-functioning political leadership, but in the end their credibility might suffer more from wading into policy territory. Don't take this as an endorsement of Trump or anyone else though. Very few politicians have demonstrated effective leadership (even Cuomo doesn't know what de Blasio is doing half the time) and very few scientists/experts have resisted the temptation to offer policy advice.

The covid problem is enormous and most of what's been suggested includes some kind of value judgement, making the solutions somewhat subjective. Policy is hard, and not the forte of most scientists. Unfortunately, it's not the forte of most politicians either at the moment. The morass is confusing people. And killing them.

7Wannabe5
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Re: COVID topic vol 2

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Well, probably the AI will have taken over all of this for us in time for the next epidemic anyway. Maybe the AI will even stop the next epidemic! One good thing about the AI is that it is not inclined towards ignoble behavior. It's very morally consistent.

Seppia
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Re: COVID topic vol 2

Post by Seppia »

Ego wrote:
Wed Nov 18, 2020 2:17 pm

You may be the only person i know who adhered to his stated beliefs wrt covid and didn't attend a friends birthday party at the French Laundry, for instance.
This is interesting even if anecdotal.
In Italy, people were extremely consistent in times of reduced restrictions (ie this summer) with regards to COVID behavior vs their beliefs.

Most people who took it seriously kept a reasonably high level of attention, it was only the “just the flu” crowd that went back going to crowded nightclubs 5 times a week.

From my conversations with close friends in France and Sweden it seems like the approach over there was similar too.

Crusader
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Re: COVID topic vol 2

Post by Crusader »

Crusader wrote:
Tue Nov 17, 2020 9:45 pm
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/17/heal ... unity.html
Immunity to the Coronavirus May Last Years, New Data Hint
Never mind, the jury is still out:
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/11 ... ickly-some

More people are getting COVID-19 twice, suggesting immunity wanes quickly in some


Lemon
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Re: COVID topic vol 2

Post by Lemon »

@jennypenny

Exactly. Unfortunately politicians like most humans also don't like it when all options are various flavours of bad. It makes policy very hard.

I would also say individual actions are not a particularly good measure to assess the advice of public figures. Because individual and population risks and impacts are very different in this situation. It makes a given politician/scientist a hypocrite but not that they are wrong on a population level. This would be the equivalent of saying a climate scientist is lying about CC and doesn't believe in it really because they drive a 4*4. Or that your doctors advise to lose weight is wrong because they are fat. Doesn't mean they shouldn't be punished or called out for such hypocrisy.

@7w5 I for one also welcome our machine overloads :lol:

@Seppia My experience is that those that take things 'very seriously' to tend to be more consistent. But most people do some amazing loops of mental gymnastics to justify their behaviour and why it ok despite being against rules/guidance even in that group. While at the same time being angry at anyone who 'breaks the rules' in a different way.

7Wannabe5
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Re: COVID topic vol 2

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Yes, there will be no clumsy pronouncements or shrill debate. The nodes will readily sense the patterned rise in temperature, and then the hushed motored autonomous aides with their ever so strong vulcanized appendages will promptly pluck the rotting apples from the bushel of the general population. Meanwhile, a young girl in SuperCity28, squatting in front of the ChineScreen will see brief image of 19th century text on economics spine-broken and splayed under glare of light. Then Claude Shannon, lifting a tea cup full of Civil, will wink right at her as The Human Lives Saved Today tote encompasses her small presence.

Or not...riots, toxic waste, orphans gnawing on the inner pith of maple trees, etc.

tonyedgecombe
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Re: COVID topic vol 2

Post by tonyedgecombe »

Politicians in the UK have definitely been using the scientists as human shields. If I had a pound for every time a politician has said "we are following the science" then I would be rich by now. You can't blame the scientists for that.

The main problem though is the UK government have been flailing about and over influenced by every special interest group. At one point Pret a Manger was complaining sales were down in city centres then five minutes later we were being told to go back to the office. I actually heard the health secretary refer to a replication rate below one as budget to spend.

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Ego
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Re: COVID topic vol 2

Post by Ego »

Seppia wrote:
Wed Nov 18, 2020 6:21 pm
This is interesting even if anecdotal.
In Italy, people were extremely consistent in times of reduced restrictions (ie this summer) with regards to COVID behavior vs their beliefs.
Well, Mrs. Ego and I have had an interesting perspective of reality (vs what people say) with our fifty-some charges as well as our positions with the Census where we actually visited people at/in their homes. The few who are being extremely consistent would have no idea just how inconsistent most people are actually being.

Lemon
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Re: COVID topic vol 2

Post by Lemon »

@tony

Not sure that is fair. They have said 'we are following the science' because in general they have been trying to. The includes trying to factor in value judgements/health/economy/everything else. They haven't got it perfect, but I don't think given basically no one this time last year would have thought we would be where we are now they are doing all that bad.

Special interest groups always influence things but the back to the office mantra was a recognition of the economic damage no one buying lunch out etc. causes. At least short term while there is reallocation it is immensely painful for the people affected. How people are affected by COVID is completely asymmetric with some industries/jobs disappearing overnight while other people get lie-ins and save £1000s on season tickets. Politicians have to balance that and think about further order effects. The 60 year old working from home probably isn't thinking enough about how screwed he is if those REITs in his pension all have to deal with their tenants going belly up...if you ask him obviously he would prefer to work from home but be able to see the grandkids.

The health secretary talking about r<1 being budget to spend is totally understandable. SAGE has basically presented data to them in that sort of form: closing pubs reduce R but 0.x-0.y etc. that then helps then pick from the options to maximise the amount of 'normality' without the virus growing exponentially. Obviously a totally inexact science but...something. The general goal being 'as much of normal as possible without the health service collapsing'. What you pick to keep as normal first...more value judgements.

tonyedgecombe
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Re: COVID topic vol 2

Post by tonyedgecombe »

There was a paper that came out of Germany a couple of months ago that showed the optimal replication rate for the economy is 0.63. The problem we have had is because the government were too timid and allowed themselves to get pulled from pillar to post they have neither saved the economy nor kept people healthy.

I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt back in March but they should have had a better handle on it by now.

CS
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Re: COVID topic vol 2

Post by CS »

I've been thinking about the following aspect while watching this discussion go by of how much to do lock-down versus the economy. I'm too lazy and too hesitant to have put it out just on my own thoughts, but now that someone else has written this article, I'll put it here. The true cost of going either way is really hard to calculate. It's not just virus as we know it now versus lockdown financial costs, but also virus as it may yet be. (And yes, I know that viruses tend to get less deadly, but we only need one instance of it getting much worse for things to really hit the shitter. I think there is a term for that sort of asymmetry... :lol: )
Letting the virus that causes Covid-19 circulate more-or-less freely is dangerous not only because it risks overwhelming hospitals and so endangering lives unnecessarily, but also because it could delay the evolution of the virus to a more benign form and potentially even make it more lethal.

Though the data is still sketchy and the measures crude, this effect may already be influencing the difference in death rates between Sweden – which took a relaxed approach to containment until recently – and Norway, whose measures have been much stricter. Sweden has more than three times as many deaths per 100 cases as its neighbour.

Letting Covid-19 circulate in hope of herd immunity 'could make it more lethal'. The explanation for this startling gap may lie partly in natural selection, and the biological arms race between a pathogen and its host. Within any population, there is genetic variation. Viruses are no different. Some versions of the virus will be very slightly more dangerous to human health – more virulent – others less so. If the conditions are right, the slightly more virulent ones will begin to predominate and cause more damage.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... g-covid-19

nomadscientist
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Re: COVID topic vol 2

Post by nomadscientist »

Both the economy and health are consumables whose purpose is to sustain human social life. As ends in themselves they are clay idols worshiped by ideologists.

The principal harm of corona measures is not that they cost corporations money or even cost workers money but that they atomise society and make higher meaning unattainable. Life in an eternal lockdown is equivalent to a meaningless death.

The reason to estimate DALY (or QALY) is to test whether this harm is in line with existing culturally accepted expectations, rather than to maximise a purely economic position. The cost equivalent of non-GDP quantities is routinely estimated, e.g. in the civil courts. There is nothing impossible about it. There is a lack of desire to find out what is the answer.

The principal aim of the UK and other Western governments and of their (identifiable, fireable) apparatchiks is to avoid personal blame. That's why everyone supports ineffective, harmful measures just provided that everyone else is supporting the same measures and the media is socially normalising them (but not otherwise - e.g. look at the establishment sommersault on masks). You are not to blame if everyone is to blame.

Social normalisation has been a dominant factor. Even people who believe they are corona hawks are not asking why we aren't doing Wuhan-style lockdowns, the only kind of lockdown that demonstrably works. Science has come to mean believing statements by authority figures, not comparing result to prediction.

ZAFCorrection
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Re: COVID topic vol 2

Post by ZAFCorrection »

One aspect of this is the costs are likely less visible to the upper middle class which generally dominates the discussion. If you are an already-isolated knowledge worker, the primary affect of the social interventions on your personal life is that you don't have to put on pants and go into the office. Most other social interaction was already done remotely or not at all. In many cases, covid has been a net win, and you get to signal as a smart, Very Serious Person (somehow, I can't get Krugman's schtick out of my head when thinking of the professional pandemic response).

J_
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Re: COVID topic vol 2

Post by J_ »

This week a had bad luck with my teeth: a bridged crown broke off. Suddenly I had a hollow of three molars, not a pleasant sight and bad for chewing food. What to do in top covid times?

I decided not to wait and made an appointment with a dental practise. The normal precautions (desinfecting hands, mouthmasks) were in place but before I had to lay down to investigate what was needed tot do I had to rinse my mouth with a delution of hydrogen peroxide.

What do you think: is that an effective way to kill the virus in your mouth? Is it wise to do it yourself when you think you have just met an infected person?

matchewed
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Re: COVID topic vol 2

Post by matchewed »

@J_

Consider that the rinse may not have been put in place for your protection but for the protection of the dental practice.

Given that I'm not sure it is a method that can be used to protect yourself from others exposure. Unless you are willing to ask people to rinse their mouths before engaging with them. :?

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Re: COVID topic vol 2

Post by jacob »

@J_ - I was instructed to rinse with (diluted!) H2O2 by the dentist after he pulled out an infected wisdom tooth. It kills bacteria which the human mouth is more or less full of. It probably kills vira too if there are any. I highly suspect it's to protect your broken crown/teeth from the rest of your mouth. Rinsing your mouth to clean it from potential vira coming from the airways would be a very short term solution.

Riggerjack
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Re: COVID topic vol 2

Post by Riggerjack »

The principal aim of the UK and other Western governments and of their (identifiable, fireable) apparatchiks is to avoid personal blame. That's why everyone supports ineffective, harmful measures just provided that everyone else is supporting the same measures and the media is socially normalising them (but not otherwise - e.g. look at the establishment sommersault on masks). You are not to blame if everyone is to blame.

Social normalisation has been a dominant factor. Even people who believe they are corona hawks are not asking why we aren't doing Wuhan-style lockdowns, the only kind of lockdown that demonstrably works. Science has come to mean believing statements by authority figures, not comparing result to prediction.
From a certain perspective, I agree with all of this, but I don't see how any of it is restricted to C19.

It seems like political solutions are compromises, and this compromise fits the needs of few.

But that is the nature of government. It's not geared towards optimal anything, ever.

Where I think we differ, is I think of C19 as one of a series of viruses that have hit in the last 2 decades. If C19 isn't serious enough to make changes to the ways we do things, is SARS I? How about ebola? MERS? Zika? Swine flu? Bird flu? Whatever is found/spread next?

Look at what this piddly little virus has done to western economies. Do you really think nobody has noticed? Do you think there isn't more interest and financial backing of viral tech today than last year? Do you think those so interested have protecting your interests in mind?

Myself, I think we can make the infrastructural changes to harden our society to viral threat now, or next time. To me, now seems better, but I understand that most people aren't much interested in the future beyond tomorrow.

Either way, I am doing just fine, and I am fairly safe. I can wait for the next time for people to start to think thru the range of possibilities.
In many cases, covid has been a net win, and you get to signal as a smart, Very Serious Person
Guilty as charged. Other than that charge of upper middle class and knowledge worker. :lol:

But this didn't happen as merely a professional choice, it has also been the result of lifestyle design. I chose a life where mild disasters like viruses are an inconvenience, and you can too.

Or you can continue to insist that the world isn't any different than it was in 2019, and we should stop behaving as though it were. :roll:

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: COVID topic vol 2

Post by Mister Imperceptible »

@RJ

Pushing back on government BS is the only thing keeping the US a place where your taking prudent measures can actually make a difference. Just because you are happy sitting with your wife alone on Thanksgiving does not mean I should tolerate being denied seeing my grandmother by government decree. But I get it, you have what you want, and trolling is fun.

nomadscientist
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Re: COVID topic vol 2

Post by nomadscientist »

The measures are ineffective against viruses, such as this one, and presumably also others. If we had airborne ebola then I want the army shooting spreaders in the streets and burning the corpses. Maybe we should implement that permanently "just in case" and call it "infrastructure."

This virus has done nothing to the economy; ineffective government attempts to control the virus have damaged the economy, but they have damaged civil society more. Some countries have eliminated the virus by using different measures, and now have economy and society back, or never lost them, but no one notices or cares. I'm not an opponent to measures. I hold the same position today as here. If you want to stamp it out, stamp it out. We are letting it slowly infect everyone while wrecking every other part of life.

What seems more likely than us learning from best practise of Vietnam and Taiwan for next time is implementing these dumb measures again because we got used to them. Give an actually serious virus and the Asians will inherit the earth, 1493-style.

FWIW this is not sour grapes; I am inexplicably much wealthier than I was in March. I still look out the window with confusion and dismay.

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