Contagion Themes

Good post from Nicholas Bagley in 2016 at the Incidental Economist.

Every disease provokes its own unique dread and its own complex public reaction, but themes recurred across outbreaks.

  1. Governments are typically unprepared, disorganized, and resistant to taking steps necessary to contain infectious diseases, especially in their early phases.
  2. Local, state, federal, and global governing bodies are apt to point fingers at one another over who’s responsible for taking action. Clear lines of authority are lacking.
  3. Calibrating the right governmental response is devilishly hard. Do too much and you squander public trust (Swine flu), do too little and people die unnecessarily (AIDS).
  4. Public officials are reluctant to publicize infections for fear of devastating the economy.
  5. Doctors rarely have good treatment options. Nursing care is often what’s needed most. Medical professionals of all kinds work themselves to the bone in the face of extraordinary danger.
  6. In the absence of an effective treatment, the public will reach for unscientific remedies.
  7. No matter what the route of transmission or the effectiveness of quarantine, there’s a desire to physically separate infected people.
  8. Victims of the disease are often thought to deserve the affliction, especially when those victims are mainly from marginalized groups.
  9. We plan, to the extent we plan at all, for the last pandemic. We don’t do enough to plan for the next one.
  10. Historical memory is short. When diseases fall from the headlines, the public forgets and preparation falters.

Not every one of those themes was present for every disease; the doughboys who died of the Spanish flu, for example, were not thought to deserve their fate. But the themes were persistent enough over time to establish a pattern.

The books we assigned were outstanding. If you want to learn about the intersection of infectious disease, history, and public health, you could do worse than to start with them:

Comments

The post at TIE was written by Nicholas Bagley, a law professor at the Univ. of Michigan, a regular contributor to TIE, and a frequent participant in significant health law related court cases. Maybe it ought not be this way, but infectious diseases are often fought in the courtroom as much as in the laboratory or hospital. Bagley's top ten list reflects this. Coronavirus is already headed to the courts, as government whistleblowers are being silenced, threatened, or even fired for doing their jobs. [An aside, here's a plug for TIE: it has a medical doctor (Carroll), a health economist (Frakt), and a health lawyer (Bagley) as contributors.]

I think the post is incorrect about AIDS. While the disease was politicized and was in the press a lot the medical community did not cause unnecessary deaths. In fact that claim itself is just another example of how it was politicized.

It is possible it is referring to public health measures to slow the disease. Distributing condoms, promoting their use, etc.

But that wasn't the problem. First there was no cure, and none in sight at the time. People were presenting with a strange combination of conditions that indicated a failure of their immune system.

It became known that the means of transmission was gay sex practices, and then spread to intravenous needles that were shared, typically by drug addicts.

Just as right now the only thing you can do to not get coronavirus is to avoid people who have it, at the time the only thing that could stop the spread is not injecting drugs and not having gay sex. It wasn't in schools, it was rarely occurring outside those two spheres. Then it showed up in blood used for transfusion, and some heterosexual transmission in rare circumstances.

That changed when Africa started seeing a spread, again by sexual practices that spread it far and wide. Multiple partners along transportation routes.

The solution was to come up with a cure, and eventually it did. There were some promising treatments, and the FDA had to change it's rules and prohibitions to let them out so people could be treated, even with less than complete certainty that it would work, but the alternative was death, so the rules were changed.

Were there prejudiced and bigoted people involved? Absolutely. But the spread of the disease was clear, and if you didn't do those things there was a very small likelihood of contracting the disease.

In BC right now the only cases are connected to recent travel to China and Iran. Until there is a cure or vaccine a sane person would avoid people in those categories. A neighbor of mine travelled to China after Christmas, not anywhere near Wuhan. The situation developed, he got out of there when he could, and they shut down their business or a couple weeks to make sure he didn't have anything.

I've come to the conclusion that anyone thinking that promoting condoms is going to solve anything must be an incel.

There are several inaccuracies in your comment.

First off, HIV has not been cured. There is effective long-term treatment, that is all.

Second, it is not transmitted by "gay sex", it is transmitted by unprotected anal sex. And the promotion of condoms saved many, many, many lives. But I'm anything but an incel - I had gay sex with MANY partners at the height of the epidemic, and since I used condoms every time, I, along with basically all my friends with the same attitude, remained uninfected.

Unfortunately, promoting condoms is not the same as people using condoms, and people who did not heed that message in the 80s are mostly dead. There are a lot of reasons for that, but for the most part, it's because when you tell people that their lives are worthless, they tend to believe you.

Okay, Gen-Xer!

Sure on the inaccuracies, but do they affect the broader point of the post? Any gov't response can be criticized at the margins. But is AIDS really the poster child for the "too little" response? Seems like mood affiliation more than facts there.

Yes, AIDS is a good example of too little response. The federal government dragged its feet for the first year or two. That is pretty well known. There was resistance to spending money on it as it was seen as a disease that resulted from sinful behavior. I was in Medical school at the time so hard to say if the medical community actually contributed to more deaths. There were certainly some people who were terrified of the disease so maybe their patients received suboptimal care.

Steve

I disagree completely. "The first year or two" would be 1981 (first US clinical case reported) and 1982. The CDC had a GRID task force in place by the end of 1982. In 1983 there were an estimated 1700 victims in the US and in May of that year HIV was strongly associated with AIDS (Science articles). Please provide an contemporaneous example of a disease with less than 2000 victims for which the US Feds had a significantly larger response. (GRID = Gay-related Immune Disease). Another name for mood affiliation is Monday morning quarterbacking. Of COURSE there was resistance to spending money on it, there's "resistance" for everything the government does, especially when money is involved and would you want it any other way? Checks and balances aren't something we should short-circuit, imho. As far as the medical community and your claim that it is "hard to say if [they] actually contributed to more deaths": why don't you refresh your memory about how the blood supply was being treated in 1983-1985.
Here's a useful link:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK232419/

You forget that those being diagnosed were generally pretty advanced cases and they were dying. Death rates were running 30%-40% in 82 and at the time we expected the rate to the 100%. Also, the rate of diagnosis was accelerating. Cite me another disease with that kind of death rate that was accelerating. It wasn't even being acknowledged by our federal government for the most part. The CDC task force you describe was largely limited to issuing guidelines and some (excellent) demographic work. . The actual research? The French. Hell, it was largely a joke (gay plague) at press conferences for a long time.

Dont have the numbers, but would wager we spent more on Zika, SARS and now Covid-19 than we did on early AIDS. There was zero leadership at high governmental levels and lack acknlwodgement of the disease and its very high death rates.

Your article? Yup, we didnt know how to test blood then and we didnt know very much about how it spread and its frequency. Would have been nice if the disease had been taken seriously sooner.

Steve

"The federal government dragged its feet for the first year or two. That is pretty well known."

No it isn't well known. The activism for this disease was high, over the top. And activist live by exagereation and false claims and that is what is well known or remembered.

The Catholic Church remains opposed to condom use too.

Wait, you did say incels. Well, how about the voluntarily celibate? Do they get your blessingß

Prior, that’s such an illogical comment that you’re forcing me to defend the Catholic Church.

Given that the Catholic Church opposes both gay sex and intravenous drug use, literally following the church’s advice would give one complete protection against HIV outside of freak accidents.

Africa might be an edge case, if the Catholic Church has a doctrine covering “dry sex” I’ve yet to hear it.

"Coronavirus is already headed to the courts, as government whistleblowers are being silenced, threatened, or even fired for doing their jobs. "

The Chinese courts don't work that way.

You know by now that rayward's befuddled-old-man shtick isn't going to be budged by reality. He heard something somewhere, dammit!

How do they get their titles?

THE BLACK DEATH is much better than The Spanish Flu.

And "COVID-19" just doesn't cut it

How about the "Wuhan virus"? People will instantly know what you're talking about, and it sticks in your brain.

"WuFlu" is about the catchiest version of that I've heard, but since we now live in 24/7 MemeWorld I'm expecting something better to come along at some point

I was surprised 'Kung flu' didn't get more traction.

It’s Corona-chan and will remain so.

Officially it is SARS COV-2, and because "Sars" may frighten some people, the name "the COVID-19 disease" shortened to COVID-19 (which is the virus, not the disease it causes) is preferred by more politically sensitive orgs. You guys hear about the hard seltzer Corona is introducing? They're promoting it with an ad. that Corona is coming ashore soon (in CA). LOL.

I might be wrong, but I thought COVID-19 was a pseudoacronym for "Coronavirus Disease 19", so saying "COVID-19 disease" would be redundent.

@rayward. TIE is great, but they seem to have taken down or hidden the multi-part analysis of US health care costs. It was a great resource. RCA (Random Critical Analysis) has done one, too, and though it's good it's too statistics-focused.

Email one of the three. I've had good response from Bagley and Frakt. Back when TIE had open comments, I sometimes offered comments from my perspective as a practicing health lawyer (mostly health transactions). TIE is mostly about health policy, but I think Bagley (and maybe Frakt) were interested in my insight when I would point out how health policy and health transactions either conflicted or complemented.

As so often seen in various comments, American health care needs no analysis, because it is neither too hot or too cold, but just right.

Prior approval, autist extraordinaire and slayer of strawmen.

I wrote that series. It’s still up! :)

https://theincidentaleconomist.com/wordpress/what-makes-the-us-health-care-system-so-expensive-introduction/

Do you ever rest?

That link is a decade old, it seems.

Sounds very reasonable.

I'd add that some things, like new tests and vaccines can prove hard, and when they are there is no real way to "magic" them faster.

I'd expect the people who know how to do these things are working as hard as they can right now.

The stock market reaction this week was a bit terrifying, especially because the virus seems to be coming under control in China (there are more new daily cases outside China than inside China now). When the virus was rapidly spreading through China alone, global stock markets shrugged it off. Only now are global stock markets falling. Ironically, one of the best performing stock indexes YTD is now the Shanghai. You would think that if China was able to contain the disease in a few weeks with little economic damage, other countries, with plenty of advance warning and knowledge about this disease that China did not have, should be able to get this disease under control quicker than China has. The stock markets seem to think otherwise though. Some have framed this as investors "waking up" to the threat, but the theory of why stocks are only being impacted now that fits better with the efficient markets hypothesis is that investors had confidence that China could contain the disease and minimize its impact; they do not have confidence that other countries will be able to.

This is making me re-evaluate my prior criticisms of the Chinese response as disproportionate and violative of human rights. Perhaps it is better to have a quick disproportionate response that is gone after two months than a situation where this disease and the milder travel bans and economic disruptions that come with it linger for a longer time. And Chinese censorship (while certainly bad and probably harmful on the margin) does not seem to have been a big causal factor in the spread of this disease, as outbreaks are now also occurring in countries without censorship (even though these countries had advance warning of the disease).

My comment at Sumner's blog: Trump has been widely ridiculed for saying the coronavirus is good for America (Trump is assuming the virus won’t come to America and will only negatively impact our competitors). But maybe Trump is sort of right. Reliance on rising asset prices for prosperity won’t work, at least not in the long run (prices that go up will eventually come down – it’s a law of nature). But the Fed is loathe to adopt policies that are intended to burst asset bubbles. So along comes the coronavirus to check rising asset prices, freeing the Fed to adopt expansionary policies. It’s a win, win. Well, not a win for the poor saps who get the virus, but a win for the Fed, for it will set the Fed free to, for example, implement level targeting without having to worry about asset bubbles. I suspect that’s what Trump had in mind when he said the coronavirus is good for America.

rayward, the trick to lying is to keep it subtle and plausible. When you fabricate something that's too openly stupid, you fall short of successful trolling and just make yourself look like a joke.

Why do so few readers of this blog appreciate irony?

Tom has a zero-tolerance policy for unsubtlety, implausibility, and stupidity.

Trump was thinking about how his friends will profit from the crisis like they did in 2007-2012 from shorting the market then exploiting the following trillions in government bailouts. Mnuchin really got rich from people losing their homes and bank shareholders being wiped out.

I actually start with the belief that no one ever contains a pandemic. This is rooted in old stories I was told years ago about modeling quarantines. The problem basically is that even with soldiers on guard one or two people get through, and that's enough.

What you hope to do, is slow things down, while remedies are developed. It is a classic race condition. The pandemic will get out but when it does you'll want to know how to effectively treat it.

In recent news on Coronavirus, the people I consider smart are saying that it is here for good. It will pass through the world and then become a standard seasonal illness. At that point there we can hope there will be a vaccine which we can all take.

So finally, as a disbeliever and rational markets, what do I think markets are doing now? I think they are finally turning their attention to the possibility of a short-term hit in the US economy, as everyone stays home for a few months. Possibly they are overselling, but possibly they have been overbuying.

If you believe in the Shiller P/E 10 as I do, you would not believe that the current rally could last much longer.

7 Dec 2019, Barron's Interviewed Shiller - "Stories Investors Believe." Volatile emotions [economics = 50% math + 50% psychology], rather than sober calculations, may be moving markets. Sensitivity to crowd behavior which provided clues to two past financial bubbles - dot.com/tech and residential housing/subprime mortgage crises. Now, stocks cyclically adjusted P/E (CAPE) metric is 30; was 28 only a year ago, historic average is 17. Early on in the 2000's RS RE run-up, Shiller asked people where home prices would be in 10 years. Many answered with a 10% p.a. rise in prices. Ordinary people became RE speculators and believed, to their regret, houses were sources of wealth and ATM's. The notion that housing prices never decline was dashed in 2007 and 2008.

To date, shorts 'lived' the old saying. Market irrationality always will outlast your capital.

"I actually start with the belief that no one ever contains a pandemic."

That's nearly a tautology. It can't effectively become a pandemic if it's contained. IE Ebola was contained to West Africa and therefore never became a Pandemic.

Which is the special case in this day and age? A disease in poor and isolated communities, or one which includes international travel from day one?

Paths of contagion play a serious role in pandemics. Ebola transmission requires several things - most people are unlikely to be dealing with blood from victims, for example.

Ebola was contained within West Africa. Realistically, it had very little change of spreading in South America or Asia. Ebola is more of a horror disease (and it is horrible) than a realistic candidate for a pandemic. Leaving aside weaponizing it, in similar fashion to anthrax - a disease that was present for centuries without ever really becoming a pandemic due to the fact that it is simply not that easy to transmit throughout a population in the way a respiratory disease is.

Poland was almost wholly spared the 14th century Black Death. One factor was a quarrantine imposed on its borders by King Casimir. (Poland was landlocked at the time, so seaports were not a factor). Those wishing to enter the country had to camp out a number of days at the border and were only admitted if they and their animals showed no sign of illness. Better hygiene than the rest of medieval Europe probably also helped

Don't Drink Corona Beer.

Rates have been near zero (except for the seven, 25 bp Fed rate rises in the first two years after Trump won election in November 2016, ending with the December 2018 stock market dive) since 2009 and equities valuations have reached astronomical levels - AMZN PE was over 80 times earnings and TSLA PE was approaching infinity(?).

A correction was long overdue based on market history. By February 20, 2020, stocks soared had soared 26.7% (to 29,550) from the December 24, 2018 low point (23,327).

The UST 10 Yr. bond is bottom-bouncing around 1.20% (30 yr. is near 1.70%), while the Fed short target rate is 1.50% to 1.75% - prime rate is 4.75%. Inverted yield curve?

Some expect there will be announced a 25 bp Fed short target rate cut in March or April.

What will the Dems and their media prostitutes do when a gajillion million (in addition to the 150 million killed by guns) Americans fail to drop dead from corona virus?

What if the people, who just a few days ago, claimed that incompetence and high office was not a problem discovered otherwise?

Three decades ago, my sons were nightly force-fed Mother Goose.

If "ifs" and "ands"
Were pots and pans,
There would be no need for tinkers dams!

You don't get it, Dick. "Incompetence is not a problem" was their strongest defense.

They were already on their last legs.

That might explain the immediate reaction of some to see scientific reporting as "an attack." If they already understand and accept the incompetence, it must be.

It was some years ago that Colbert coined "truth has a liberal bias." It has only gotten much worse.

Ok I’ll ask nicely. Just what competence would you like to see? And how would a President Warren display said competence?

I would be much more reassured if the head of the task force were an official of the CDC, with say 20 years experience in disease transmission.

As expected, no substantive response when called out. This isn't about competence or principle for anonymous. This is just a convenient pile of dead bodies to stand upon while flinging poo.

Ok that’s not an unreasonable request.

Strangely enough, there now is a qualified, competent person on the Task Force. From Bloomberg News:

Pence added another layer to the government’s management of the virus response on Thursday by appointing the State Department’s top AIDS official, Deborah Birx, to temporarily join his team.

Birx is a career government official who was nominated by former President Barack Obama in 2014 as the U.S. global AIDS coordinator responsible for overseeing humanitarian aid programs combating the epidemic. She also served as head of the global HIV/AIDS division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and was a top research official at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

When you think about it, by packing the effort with cronies, Trump is inserting distance between himself and the CDC.

Um, ok sir. But the gates up, you can drive on. And next time, since you have a FASTPass, you don't have to stop by the toll booth......

Or it's a brilliant move by a guy who knows how he is thought of by much of the public. Or actually takes advice when it is in his campaign's interest. Let's face it, there's little the feds can do in the next 12 months or so to look good on this - other than make sure the supply of the practically useless N95 masks is goosed up. Oh, and "training" (and suits) for "medical staff" nationwide.
Maybe he (Trump) should offer a tax credit...

It's not really the incompetence, it's the cover up: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/philip-haney-death-whistleblower-obama-fbi-homeland-security-a9362061.html

Sure, sure. "But Obama." Meanwhile:

But many top positions across the government that could play a role in coordinating the government’s efforts to prepare for coronavirus remain empty. Birx’s appointment was necessary in part because Trump had eliminated a National Security Council office dedicated to managing pandemics in May 2018.

https://time.com/5792015/trump-coronavirus-vacancies/

So this is the narrative you’re going with? Really?

Bolton streamlining the NSC by eliminating a team whose glorious history stretches all the way back to...2016?

Come on dude. This is ridiculous. This is Limbaugh and Fox level nonsense.

You are one weird dude. That is a snippet of Time Magazine which, as far as I know, reports a true thing:

"Trump had eliminated a National Security Council office dedicated to managing pandemics in May 2018"

We should be able to digest that truth without a partisan reaction. Here's my effort: Most presidents would never have done that for risk aversion. If, even at long odds, they had a pandemic on their watch, people would say "what the hell?"

So it's really odd, and aggressive, that Trump did in fact eliminate that office, and expose himself to that risk. Why?

Come on dude, even for you this is ridiculous. Do you think Trump even knew that office existed in 2016?

Creating the office was CYA move to make it seem like “something is being done about Zika!” It affects the government response approximately zero.

Give me something real man, I’m certainly not opposed to thinking Trump did something incredibly stupid. Bolton reshaping the NSC doesn’t rate.

What actual concrete things has he done in the last 60 days that screwed up the US response?

Thanks

I'll stick with this one, and the tie in to Michael Lewis' Fifth Risk.

Once again, you offer Limbaugh level pure hysteria and when pressed for concrete specifics you.....

Offer an irrelevant partisan twitter link and shrink away.

Lame. Just more pure hyper-partisan trolling on your part.

By the way. Good God, people.

https://twitter.com/LibsInAmerica/status/1233414007710769155?s=19

Just so everyone who scrolls by knows, anonymous’ source here is a conspiracy theory Twitter account that rivals InfoWars for bullsh*t:

Pee tape propaganda, Trump as secret Russian asset developed by KGB in the 80s, Trump with secret methamphetamine addiction, Trump conspiring to overthrow democracy in the US with help from the Spetsnaz from Putin a la Red Dawn, believes Russians have pee tapes (yes, this is anonymous’s main source of news) of Bernie Sanders.

It’s an anonymous(!) twitter account with an anime profile picture.

Jesus Christ, you can’t be this dumb.

Why does the NSC have a pandemic office, that should be the CDC. Oh, that's right, because the CDC wants to nanny how much salt you eat instead of working on pandemics. The whole federal government is a shit show.

By the way, what triggered that action in 2016? It wasn't a wild hair, it was Zika response.

https://www.ehstoday.com/health/article/21917772/nsc-2016-when-a-pandemic-strikes-will-you-be-prepared

https://apnews.com/d36d6c4de29f4d04beda3db00cb46104

AP FACT CHECK: Democrats distort coronavirus readiness

Check out instapundit. They give a nice roundup of news from a variety of sources: https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/359802/

To an individual, being alive or dead is rather important. But it's not nearly as important the bigger economic picture, is it? What's the benefit of being alive if the stock market slides over a cliff?

The srock market is not the economy that real people live in...

Whatever you do, don't drink Corona beer!

Carona beer is the problem, as president Trump clearly knows.

Yuengling is my go-to lager. I recently bought a 24 bottle case for $17.89 at Walmart.

Rolling Rock is better, though it has been a while since it was cheaper.

In China, because there monopolization of assets, the confusion level is very low. On the other hand, due to asynchronization of time and language, the effect from "pollution" of viral reckoning is probably close to zero. It's not as if the US system has not been giving China credit for this since the Clinton Administration, while we continually provoke Russian interference, with of course, interference ourselves.

Vaccination is a two step process. It starts with awareness, then distress, than a shot of a bucolic, which often, as with the flu vaccination, inflames certain receptors. Luckily, the ECB systems provides retrograde agonists that supply flavor.

5 is the most important one here.

Much of the rest is handwaving. If you travelled in China over the last couple months there is a higher likelihood of exposure. Some people call that racism or prejudice. Yawn.

Italy right now, SARS in Ontario and likely much of the initial response in China, which we will probably never know about, are where the diseases are spread by protocol.

But other than that, it is simply a matter of isolation. There isn't any other alternative until a treatment comes along. Don't make it worse.

I hate the phrase "we don't plan enough for the next [epidemic]." If we knew what the next epidemic was going to be, we would plan for it. All we really have to go on is the past!

nonsense. theres much that can be done without a crystal ball.

hell, the pentagon spends uncounted billions trying to be ready for the next war

reference: 'Generals always fight the last war”

It sort of drives me nuts too, because it's code for "we should prepare for counterinsurgency" or "we should prepare for WWIII" depending on who's talking. The actual problem is not that Generals are overwhelmed by recency bias, it's that we don't all agree on the most important risks in the world.

Or even know what the important risks are going to be when you do guess correctly. Look at Iraq. The US army was prepared for counter insurgency and even IED's. They weren't prepared for the shear volume of munitions spread across Iraq and the size of the IED's that could be assembled.

JWatts,

We were not prepared for IEDs nor counterinsurgency operations. Many units were rolling in soft skin HMMWVs until late 2004. Uparmored HMMWVs were woefully inadequate, V-shaped MRAPs didn’t hit theater until mid 2007, four years into the war began and were in short supply until 2008.

The order banning travel in M1114 and M1151s wasn’t cut until 2011 in Afghanistan, which gives a clear indication of the composition of the rolling stock ten years into the war effort.

Cheers!

and yet they stockpile support equipment ready to transport, they train for deployment, they position carriers around the globe, and have rapid deployment forces ready to go on a moment;s notice. and they tabletop scenarios as the possibilities emerge. all perfectly rational preparations when faced with an unknowable future.

From FDR in 1933, “…they (Wall Street bankers...perhaps today’s .01%) know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision, the people perish.

Isn't it funny Brazil spends but a fraction of what America spends in healthcare, yet it has the ninth best healthcare system in the world in dealing with epidemics, its hospitals execute coronavirus tests faster than America and it has way fewer cases than we do? Maybe we should take a leaf from the Brazilian playbook?

Tests with what accuracy?

I was thinking about this, and I'm not really equipped to know, but I'll share ..

If you invent a test, how do you know it works? You can't say it works just because the person is sick. They might be sick with something else. So you need to compare your test against a known standard. It would be nice if this known standard was a widely distributed accurate test, but we know there is no such thing. So what are people comparing against? Are they doing DNA assay of the virus and expert comparison of the full genome? How many people in the world are really equipped to do that? Perhaps there are more people than I think, but I can't believe they are at every regional hospital.

I don't think you are serious, but to use this as a teaching moment, what if that poor guy is a false positive?

And what if the false negative is serving coffee at a cafe?

A month ago no one knew anything. Now we know a little bit, and every day something more is learned as it spreads and more data comes in.

The only test is at a lab equipped to identify the molecules involved. Any test that is widespread will involve an iterative process of implementation and improvement. A gold standard will be ready once the pandemic has run it's course.

Right now the test is flu symptoms and a recent history of travel to affected areas. What is the precision of that test? It misses 100% those who have no or minor symptoms. Probably a good proportion are false positives with the annual flu.

More information is better, even when accompanied by caveats. The critical resource is the time of people who know and are capable of treating the ill, and giving these people something that would save a bit of time with the tradeoff that there might be some error margins doesn't sound like a bad thing.

And I'll repeat. The FDA will approve something eventually, just in time to diagnose the last few cases as the pandemic fizzles out.

How do you fall for Thiago every single time....

He's not the only one who has raised "but local hospitals (etc) have their own tests!"

It's worth noting what that does, and does not, mean.

Maybe you prefer innocent people dying and economic activity disrupted.

11. Desperate scientists from the plague-ravaged future always send an intrepid time-traveler back to the present, in the hopes of finding -- and even killing -- Patient Zero

I think I had a dream about something like that one time.

IOW, and academic, who has no skills the least bit useful in any kind of crisis, critiques and grades everyone else's performance. Sod off all of you.

"If you want to learn about the intersection of infectious disease, history, and public health, you could do worse than to start with them."

Also, add this lecture series from Yale Open Courses, which is quite good: "Epidemics in Western Society Since 1600"
https://oyc.yale.edu/history/hist-234

Ah, for the good old days when you could test vaccines on the mentally ill:
http://www.annarbor.com/news/government-conducted-flu-experiments-on-patients-at-ypsilanti-area-psychiatric-hospital/

Of course, China could sill probably do this.

So what? Didn't Trump nominate a homosexual to head intelligence?

that sounds like the set up for a joke... a homo and a commie walk into a whorehouse where the madame is a clown...

Disappointed to not see a mention of Thucydides. He put the description of the plague and what happened to Athens immediately after the funeral oration. 2.47 through around 2.55.

Left off: Foreigners often attribute to the United States. What do they know and when did they know it?

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