This is me

Filed under: covid, humor — jlm @ 12:18

(from [xkcd])


Vaccines in freezers are 0% effective

Filed under: covid, news — jlm @ 10:41

… they have to be injected into somebody to have an effect. This is an obvious, common sense, undisputed fact. Why are so many people of influence and power (most disappointingly Gov. Gavin Newsom) acting like it’s not?

Today, in this age of online data, we have the advantage of having the actual numbers a click away. As of today, 31,161,075 doses have been distributed, of which 12,279,180 have been administered, leaving 18,881,895 doses chilling out in the freezers. Despite all the public clamor to administer the vaccines, 60% of the doses made for US use so far are still just sitting there in inventory, despite us being over a month into the rollout.

And over at the New York Times, they deem it it important enough to extend their morning newsletter to … try and convince people that they should go get vaccinated:

Right now, public discussion of the vaccines is full of warnings about their limitations: They’re not 100 percent effective. Even vaccinated people may be able to spread the virus. And people shouldn’t change their behavior once they get their shots. These warnings have a basis in truth, just as it’s true that masks are imperfect. But the sum total of the warnings is misleading, as I heard from multiple doctors and epidemiologists last week. “It’s driving me a little bit crazy,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown School of Public Health, told me. “We’re underselling the vaccine,” Dr. Aaron Richterman, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, said. “It’s going to save your life — that’s where the emphasis has to be right now,” Dr. Peter Hotez of the Baylor College of Medicine said.

No, it can’t save my life if you won’t let me get it. If everybody in the US was offered the vaccine right here, right now, you’d have 200 million takers, maybe even 250 million. Getting people to want the vaccine is not the problem right now!

Professionals at Pfizer, Moderna, and BioNTech did incredible, amazing, invaluable work, developing astoundingly effective vaccines in record time, and their work will save millions of lives. And it’s being wasted by political-driven delays when every day that vaccination is postponed another 4,000 Americans die needlessly. I can only imagine how infuriating this deadly government obstruction must be to the vaccine developers, hearing about thousands, then tens of thousands of American lives that could have been saved if only all 30 million doses they made so far had been administered right away.

The corrosive effects of the lies from the government officials in Sacramento and DC are despicable and deserve discussion and long-overdue corrective action, but that their “plan” was “do no planning and let the insurance companies, medical facilities, and county health departments deal with it on their own” is deplorable, and that they’re still refusing to get those vaccine doses off the shelves and into people’s arms is unconscionable.


Oh no, Santa, noooo!

Filed under: covid, humor — jlm @ 18:18

Santa, no!

Source (from Freefall by Mark Stanley)


Unfortunately not fiction

Filed under: covid, news — jlm @ 17:34

From the corrupt politics dystopia we switched to the global epidemic dystopia and now the street mob dystopia. The switches seem to be happening faster, I might get whiplash from the next one. What’s that going to be, the robot uprising dystopia?


No refuge in the numbers

Filed under: covid, news — jlm @ 20:41

The State of California, like several other states, has applied an unprecedented “shelter in place” directive to its population to stem the spread of SARS-2. This is a huge cost on the psychological well-being of the citizenry, on their human rights of movement and association, and on the economy, in order to avoid incurring even greater costs in lives lost, reduction in health, and the resulting psychological and economic trauma. Now, after over a week of this, has there been any luck at reducing the spread of the disease? I have no real sense one way or the other. So I went and grabbed the data on the number of cases from March 11th onward from the state Department of Public Health and plotted the infection rate (ratio of new cases to prior cases) since then:

plot of California's COVID infection rate

(data is only up to yesterday because the Department publishes a day’s case facts the next day)

I have no idea what to make of this, so I still have no real sense one way or the other whether it is working. The 18th and 19th are weird outliers, but I double-checked the data for the 17th−20th, and if the graph is wrong then the state’s numbers are. I wish I could draw a conclusion from this, but I can’t.


Why we need sick-time regulations

Filed under: covid, news, politics — jlm @ 11:00

There’s a terrifying report from the NY Times and affiliates today: With the traditional retail shut-down triggering a big jump in online retail, there’s been a big jump in the workload at the businesses that get the deliveries to the consumers — and the pressure to meet at that workload is causing many employees to come into work despite being sick, even when they’re almost certainly suffering from COVID!

Absent the pandemic, our laissez-faire approach to sick-leave policies has resulted in a race-to-the-bottom and certainly contributed to the spread of traditional casually communicable diseases like the common cold and flu. With the pandemic, here we see that it’s actively undermining our efforts to fight the disease’s spread! Whether it’s the proper remit of government to prevent this race-to-the-bottom is a matter of political philosophy, and this right here is a demonstration of why it’s bad to not have those regulations. Without regulations, businesses won’t enact policies that reduce the spread of diseases, because that’s a social good but not a competitive improvement. Proper government recognizes that its duty to the society it governs includes ensuring that businesses don’t face competitive pressures to act in ways that hurt the greater society. Sick-time regulation is one such case: a uniform and regulated policy would protect society as a whole by reducing the spread of casually communicable diseases, while letting businesses still compete in the matters that are properly their remit like customer service, productivity, and product quality.

Our failure to have socially beneficial sick-time polities has already contributed to the epidemic and continues to do so. But now that we’re here, we need to do more than look back and regret our foolishness and lack of foresight. A responsible government would step in with emergency regulations and keep these employees home, provide unemployment funds while they’re recovering at home instead of getting paid hours at work, shield them from any retaliation for doing the Right Thing by staying at home, and release the pressure to have so many employees on the job by suspending (or at least relaxing) delivery guarantees. If stopping the spread of the virus is important enough to shutdown retail over, it’s important enough to slow shipments over! Is the US government going to take these obvious actions? Time will tell, but my level of trust is low and I believe it will not, and thereby destroy a decent fraction of whatever good the shelter-in-place policies would provide.


No thank you, Captain Skid-for-Brains

Filed under: covid, news, science — jlm @ 22:07

What is it with experts and quotes today?

From “How long will Americans be fighting the coronavirus?” by Christina Larson and Michelle R. Smith, AP News:

“The analogy of pumping car brakes on an icy road is what we should be thinking about,” [Michael] Levy said. “You push on the brakes to slow things down, then ease up – but if you skid, you have to pump the brakes again.”

This is clearly someone who has never recovered from a skid by their own actions, because the only way to do so is to regain traction, which means you must release the brakes. Though I should be less irritated than I am at this error, because anti-lock brakes have been required on cars for long enough that there are now people who have earned doctorates who were adolescents learning to drive only after the ABS mandate and dropping of manual brake management from drivers ed. Get off my lawn, Dr. Whippersnapper, there’s a shelter-in-place order in effect!

Thank you Captain Obvious

Filed under: covid, econ, news, politics — jlm @ 17:14

From Jobless claims jump by 70,000 as virus starts to take hold (San Francisco Gate, by Martin Crutsinger via AP):

“The more aggressive coronavirus containment measures imposed in recent days involving the near total shutdown of the retail, leisure and travel sectors in some parts of the country are clearly starting to have a dramatic impact,” said Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

Ya think?


What will happen in three weeks

Filed under: covid, science, sfba — jlm @ 20:01

To be a bit more upbeat than my last post… What will happen is the transmission rates of all communicable diseases will drop. We’ll have less colds, less flus. We’ve put the brakes on the spread of germs in general — at least until we go back to normal, and they go back to normal.


Things that aren’t going to happen in three weeks

Filed under: covid, science, sfba — jlm @ 21:07

• The SARS-2 (COVID) virus will burn out.

SARS-2 has demonstrated its ability to linger in populations, so even if the SFBA manages to rid itself of SARS-2, carriers entering the area will restart the local spread.

• There will be effective prophylaxis available.

Vaccines take much, much longer than that to develop, so we’re not going to see one that quickly. If we had a vaccine to SARS-1, there’d be a slim chance that it’d also immunize against SARS-2, but we’re out of luck there.

• Treatment will be substantially better.

Same as above. Treatments tailored specifically to a disease take time to develop and improve. The potential exceptions would be already existing SARS, coronavirus-general, or broad-spectrum antivirals. But if any of those showed significant efficacy against SARS-2, we’d already know about it. So we’re not buying revolutionary improvements in treatment, but incremental ones.

• The shelter-in-place order will be honored.

People are going to get fed up as the days, then weeks, drag by, and even today I saw kids practicing soccer on the Eastshore field.


Don’t get me wrong — there are good odds that a vaccine will be developed or that better treatments will arrive, and combining those with natural resistance means there’s a very good chance that the disease will be stopped. But the new treatments and prophylaxis will take longer than three weeks to happen. And sadly, that means this disease is unlikely to be stopped before it sweeps through our population, and a three-week shelter-in-place won’t change that.

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