$1 million plus in Emergent Ventures Prizes for coronavirus work

I believe that we should be using prizes to help innovate and combat the coronavirus. When are prizes better than grants? The case for prizes is stronger when you don’t know who is likely to make the breakthrough, you value the final output more than the process, there is an urgency to solutions (talent development is too slow), success is relatively easy to define, and efforts and investments are likely to be undercompensated. All of these apply to the threat from the coronavirus.

We do not know who are the most likely candidates to come up with the best tests, the best remedies and cures, the best innovations in social distancing, and the best policy proposals. Anyone in the world could make a contribution to the anti-virus effort and it won’t work to just give a chunk of money to say Harvard or MIT.

Progress is urgent. I am still keen on talent development for this and other problems, but the situation is worse every week, every day. It is important to incentivize those who are working on these problems now.

The innovators, medical professionals and policy people at work on this issue are unlikely to receive anything close to the full social value of their efforts.

I therefore am grateful that I have been able to raise a new chunk of money for Emergent Ventures — a project of the Mercatus Center — for ex post prizes (not grants) for those who make progress in coronavirus problems.

Here are the newly established prizes on offer:

1. Best investigative journalism on coronavirus — 50k

2. Best blog or social media tracking/analysis of the virus — 100k

3. Best (justified) coronavirus policy writing — 50k

4. Best effort to find a good treatment rapidly — 500k, second prize 200k

5. Best innovation in social distancing — 100k

6. Most important innovation or improvement for India — 100k

What might be an example of a winning project?  What if this attempt to build scalable respirators succeeded?  That would be a natural winner.  Or a social distancing innovation might be the roll out of more meals on wheels, little libraries, online worship, easier ways to work from home, and so on.  The vision is to give to people whose work actually will be encouraged, not to give to Amazon (sorry Jeff!), no matter how many wonderful things they do.

These are not prizes you apply for, they will be awarded by Emergent Ventures when a significant success is spotted.  (That said, you still can propose a coronavirus-related project through normal channels, with discretionary amounts to be awarded as grants per usual procedures.)  And typically the awards will apply to actions taken after the release of this announcement.

I would love to be able to offer more second and third prizes for these efforts, and also to increase the amounts on offer, and perhaps cover more countries too. Or perhaps you have an idea for an additional category of prize. So if you are a person of means and able to consider making a significant (tax-deductible) contribution, please email me and we can discuss.

In the meantime, the rest of you all need to get to work.


I'll kick in. Obvs I make extensive use of this site, and owe it on that basis alone. But it does seem a good and useful response to this shared crisis as well.

I'll spend the rest of the day getting comfortable with a number, and let you know privately.

Much appreciated, thank you!

Good idea but the problem is not a lack of will to innovate. The problem is the regulatory process. If not for that, test kits would have been widely available early in this epidemic.

Test kits were widely available just about everywhere, with the notable exception of a country whose leader seemed utterly unconcerned about, when not actively downplaying, an onrushing pandemic.

Except the failure was by “career professionals “- who typically sought control rather than excellence

That certainly seems like an accurate summation after three years of the Trump Administration.

Those willing to voluntarily use their own time, talent and treasure for the benefit of others deserve my respect. Well done sir.

I love this idea. I'm willing to kick in a bit too, though it won't be a huge amount (just starting my career) -- Is there any interest in using a crowd-funding platform?

Yeah, I'd also like to know what "significant" is considered. $500, $5k, $50k?

I don't want to kick in, I want to get the money from number 3.

When 60% of the population is infected and then immune to coronavirus, it will cease to be an epidemic and will decline naturally.

Ergo, restricting public events is somewhat counterproductive and will only delay or stretch out the length of the epidemic.

The vast majority of cases are mild or even asymptomatic, children appear to be immune, and healthy non-elderly adults are at very low risk.

Build "herd immunity" as soon as possible by living life normally.

Remember, 1100 crew members of the Diamond Princess lived in an ate in common quarters, on what became a prison ship for weeks, and not one died.

You can contact me for instructions and how to send me my $50,000.

The goal is to stretch out the length of the epidemic so as to not overwhelm our medical infrastructure. The US has something like a million hospital beds nationwide, and only a fraction of those are equipped to handle patients with severe respiratory issues brought on by a highly infectious disease. As such, you can lower the mortality rate by not maxing out these relatively small number of beds. Doing so involves slowing the rate of transmission of the disease.

So no, Tyler should keep his money. I think as a penalty for talking such rot, you should instead give him 50k. Or me. I will happily accept the money as well.

Ben-ignorance is bliss so you are safe from the Coronavirus-Todd is exactly right

What about isolating the hard cases (older people, underlying conditions) and have everyone else lives normally?

What I propose is expensive, but so is shutting down the country for a few weeks.

Brit expert recommends as I have:


I want my $50k. In small unmarked bills, sprayed with Lysol.

Robin Hanson already had this idea. You'll have to fight it from him. Personally I think this is, with due respect, a pretty stupid idea. Not herd immunity, that is a good idea, but infecting everybody to achieve it, that is a bad idea. Developing a vaccine is much saner.

There are lots of people who will have no side effects. If you could get all the elementary school kids into some kind of boarding school for a month, we would eliminate that vector.

I'm not saying this is the right idea. I'm saying it might be a right idea.

I would like to state my proposal for fighting Covid-19, right here, right now.
It's simple but effective. In Greece and in the Philippines, there's a shortage of alcohol at the moment for sanitizing one's hands and building a buffer to the spread of Covid-19. Currently, a small 200 ml bottle of 70% alcohol costs 5 Euro, or about 300 pesos, which in PH is almost a half day's wages, a prohibitive amount. But San Miguel gin * is 40% alcohol and a 330 ml bottle can be had for about 50 to 100 pesos, one-sixth to one-third the price. Since 40% alcohol will also inactivate the nCoV-19 virus, I propose people start buying San Miguel gin rather than expensive alcohol. There's also an unscientific rumor, in both Greece and the Philippines (coincidentally) that a shot of alcohol will ward off Covid-19 (not to mention malaria). My email is in the comments section, known to TC. Thank you for your consideration. - RL

*Introduced in 1834, Ginebra San Miguel is recognized as the number 1 selling gin in the world. Ginebra San Miguel is an 80-proof Dutch-type gin made from sugarcane alcohol. Its predominant flavor comes from juniper berries and selected essences from all over the world

80 proof alcohol will not kill the virus.

Yeah, every source that I've read says 60% alcohol, approximately 120 proof.

"I believe that we should be using prizes ..."

"Belief" is an extremely flimsy premise with which to proceed on this -- surely you have some factual evidence supporting the utility of this effort ?

has this succeeded before in generally similar circumstances ?

I apologize in advance.

I'm a serious cynic.

In the current oceanic cashflow, a million dollars is about the dimensions of a coronsvirus.

The wise guys/coronavirus pros (big pharma, donors, lobbyists, politicians' friends and relatives, et al) are divvying up $8.5 billion in government largesse. More $$$ to come.

I'm a cynical nerd. Everyone must stay inside; sports are cancelled, social interaction prohibited - it's like Heaven!

Yes, by all means, Rich People -- do not give money to those actually trying to create a vaccine or help those who need treatment.

Give it to those doing "social media analysis." Best fearmongerer gets 100K!!

After all, virtually no one is talking about this virus on social media. It's a desert of coverage out there!!

Presumably "social media analysis" means something like tracking where potential new cases could be without waiting for people to get tested.

This is all about making free market capitalism work.

Free market capitalism eliminates to job kill crushing costs of paying workers to work, so costs can be eliminated so more innovations can be delivered to everyone for free.

The free in free market stands for free goods and services that are imagined by economists, like flying cars, dense high rise condos that need no water and sewer and roads or parking with backyards for getting the kids out of the house, for working on cars, and barbecues.

What the economists want is for the government to get out of the way of the Elizabeth Holmes who was backed by notable economists. Note, while Obama destroyed her great company, she/it have thousands of patents covering quick cheap tests sold OTC.

Clearly Holmes should get at least one Emergent Venture prizes by simply getting a Trump presser where Trump pardons her of all past and future crimes and then announces her fantastic tremendous 100% perfect instant SARS-COV2 test which will be administered over the Internet with a free $50 app download from Google and Apple.

Get a life

Seems to me that having NCAA tournaments without fans(maybe just family and broadcast crews) would be plus factor for social distancing.

Give that man a prize.

im picturing anywhere from 30-50,000 kids roaming around maybe 200 bars..from Grand Central Penn Station to Herald Sq/Korean blocks...for 3 or days/nites....good for bars

This had been what various sports associations such as the NCAA (and also Oregon's state association for high school sports) were doing very briefly.

Until NBA player Rudy Gobert tested positive a couple of days ago. And almost certainly infected his teammate, Donovan Mitchell.

At the moment those are the only two NBA players (and for that matter, the only two basketball players AFAIK) who have tested positive.

But the risks of undiagnosed players spreading the disease to other players is obvious, so most sporting events have been postponed or cancelled. Because even the absence of crowds is not keeping the players safe.

(Players on athletic teams of course have been spreading flu and colds to each other probably since ancient times. And athlete's foot too for that matter. So if you think COVID-19 is not a serious illness especially for a young fit athlete maybe these sports cancellations are an over-reaction. IMO we don't yet have enough information to make a good decision about how serious a threat COVID-19 is, and thus postponements, suspensions, and if necessary cancellations may be a good idea.)

I'd write a check to an FT journalist, let's see what happens by March 25-30 on the US.


Don't I get a prize for best comments?

MR! Accepting the prize of 10,000 dollars is TC, a man who is awarding the prizes he wants to award, not the prizes you want him to award.

Tyler did not place any restriction on the personhood of the entity earning the prize.

So, expect him to pay the NIH or CDC some prize money if they find a good treatment, for example.

I, myself, have developed the most innovation for social distancing...from the audience...by using electrons to communicate comments on a blog.

But, I have done more.

I have developed an app that records any contact with any individual at a distance of more than 3 to 6 feet, so that when the health department quizzes me on whom I was in contact with I can download my 3-6 feet contact list.

I am having some problems, though. Since I come in contact with people whom I do not know, I have been taking pictures of them for later facial recognition profiles.

Some people think this is a little creepy, but I tell them it is for the benefit of science, and for a prize for innovation that is available on the MR website.

Odd how a long running gag on the Internet may reach its conclusion after President Trump is infected by a Brazilian. He did not look well during his reassuring speech to the nation.

Age stratification of quarantining. Move this post elsewhere if needed, but as stated...times are urgent.

It's a mistake to think of this as only medical. Lockdowns will be fatal to countless businesses and maybe national economies (what would a single default do?). Long-run harm to medical infrastructure from wealth loss may be considerable.

I.e. restrict some activities starting at age 50...full restrictions at 65. Etc etc.

Cancel school, and you limit supply of healthcare workers who must then look after their kids, who don't much suffer from this anyway.

Long run, wouldn't this help the elderly...as the remaining population builds a degree of immunity as it moves through? Plus possible long-run value of said immunity to those exposed.

Just thinking...

All this makes lot of sense. I am really wondering if we're not all passed in auto-destruction mode.

Or maybe things were different in 1918, where something similar to what is likely to occur actually occurred.

If I read the NY Times correctly, 1918 was different. It affected the young. Older folks might have been protected by immunity they built from milder exposures in their youth.

Healthcare systems require a working economic system as a host. The risk to both is potentially existential. Let's work the problem.

Intelligent age-stratified restrictions on mobility/exposure should be on the table.

It is always different.

Kudos! We need more prizes and we need more prizes and we need them now!

Damm right. Well done Tyler!

Good for you! Thanks for doing this.

Do we have any number for the economic damage caused by shutdown?

The most vulnerable Americans are the old. There are 40 million Americans over the age of 65. Hire 8 million personal shoppers for them (each senior gets one day per week) at $14/hour ($560/week). That costs $4.48 Billion per week.

Are we doing at least $4.48 Billion per week of economic damage by shutting things down?

Tinder and the sugar-baby sites could easily retrofit to help us seniors find just the right personal shopper

For the last week or two some people on Reddit's subReddit for Portland OR were publicly volunteering to do shopping and other gofer tasks for the elderly or other people who needed to maximize their social distance.

A government-subsidized voucher or repayment system would reach a lot more people. But might be a headache to set up and run.

Analysts might be interested in the daily Israeli data: https://www.haaretz.co.il/health/corona/LIVE-1.8641826 (readable with Google translate). Most new cases are Israelis who have recently returned from abroad. Most enter quarantine immediately, but a few wander around for a few days before getting sick.

This is great!

Captain Bolsonaro infected Trump! Tiago?

Not true at all. Brazil's President Captain Bolsonaro has tested negative for the coronavirus. Brazil's Communications Secretary, Mr. Wajngarten, was infected in the United States. Trump's clumsy fascist regime has created the whole problem, not Brazil. Spending a fraction of what we spend, Brazil has been much more successful at containing the coronavirus thanks to President Captain Bolsonaro's leadership.

He didn't. He tested negative for the coronavirus. Brazil's Communications Secretary was infected in the United States. Maybe we should ask ourselves how Brazil was able to spend a fraction of what we do and yet do a much better job at containing the virus.

Prizes are totally worthless. They wont change behavior.

The best investigative journalism on coronavirus will be the best investigative journalism on coronavirus with or without the prize.

The same is true for all the categories.

At least if this is seen as something that is considered a serious contribution to helping deal with a pandemic,

Yeah let's all shit on the people donating a million dollars to save peoples' lives, lest they get one shred of credit for it. Fuck 'em, am I right?

These are not prizes designed to give any incentives, unless you think that no one is working on covid19.

Instead, these are prizes awarded afterwards, most likely to people who are completely unaware of them today, and definitely unaware of them for the last 3 months that doctors have been working on effective treatments for this novel infection or visualizing data or providing information.

Prior’s infinite wisdom:

Bonuses do not function as incentives because people are already working.

Makes you wonder if the grants come from a common pot, or instead various contributors have various interests which lead to certain standards in prize selection/awarding.

Science requires collaboration and open access to data. Prizes requires competition, that is bad for science. We need the information about the virus that each individual scientist learns to be shared immediately. Prizes in this situation is a bad bad bad idea.

I would like to discuss the economics of prizes, but have to do some work. It might be good to have the discussion here.

Here are some things to consider:
1. Are any of the prize categories likely to motivate someone with money.
2. There is only one prize winner per category...which means...the non-prize winners are contributing their intellectual property to the prize granter...
3. Is this online gambling.
4. Which motivates a journalist more: a Pulitzer or a 50k award, and consider, journalists select the winner for one, and two economists with a website select the other. And, you don't even know who gave the seed money for the contest...was it the Koch Bros; is the grantor willing to publish who funds the enterprise?
5. Do you remember the time when you wrote an essay on how Great America is for the local VFW. You may or may not have one the prize, but you knew the audience, and that influenced your writing, and, subliminally you beliefs.

Very admirable and potentially impactful. Thank you for doing this.

I think it would help raising the status of governments which succeeded in tackling the virus threat such as Formosa's, South Korea's, Brazil's, etc.

Only someone with TDS is not aware that 4 has already clearly been won by Trump, who has singlehandedly pushed the vaccine industry to solve this problem in no time.

I grrr a bit about your item 1, investigative journalism. That's CDC's job, dammit, they have the expertise and resources to do a competent and thorough investigation. Lean on them to do what they're paid to do.

What I would like to see from journalists is more stories like the one floating around the Internet this morning, a first-hand account from a survivor. In this case it's a Seattle woman who caught it at a party along with a few friends. That's what I want to read... how did it feel, where do you think you caught it, how many of your friends got it. I don't need more tables and graphs like the CDC puts out, or vague advice about washing hands and avoiding crowds.

at the end of the day look at how
the sociologists are way too focused on the number of tests/number tested!

1. Best investigative journalism on coronavirus — 50k

this is #1? with all due respect, your priorities are fucking whacked

+1 on investigative journalism. What story is so useful that otherwise is not likely to be reported on?

That not a single commenter seems aware of how brilliant this truly is.

Prizes have a proud history in advancing progress, such as the British longitude rewards (though the first such prize was offered a century and a half earlier in Spain). However, those prizes were not awarded retroactively, they were set up to spur solving a problem.

Does anyone honestly think that the currently announced prizes will have any effect, particularly as their criteria and awarding are designed to simply associate these prizes with actual achievements which would have occurred without these prizes? For example, it is quite possible that winners will have no idea that such awards exist until their check arrives in the mail, so to speak.

Prior wins the autism prize.

I have read that this former GMU employee was fired 30 years ago for either sexual harassment or sexual assault.

In the spirit of the metoo movement, I think that should be noted every single time you identify this person. Personal courage is important - people who have personally experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault, possibly including yourself in such a traumatic situation, need to be supported unconditionally.

#5 -"Best innovation in social distancing" is already won:


"5. Best innovation in social distancing — 100k" I hereby apply. My scheme is that anyone who wants other people to keep their distance walk about with a pair of underpants on his head. (Ladies, borrow a pair from your brother!)

Not only is it almost certain to work but a slight adjustment as you feel a sneeze coming on will lead to any droplets you eject being intercepted by the said undergarment. Moreover, you will constantly be reminded not to touch your face with your hands. It seems flawless to me. Further, it constitutes a highly beneficial way to recycle knackered knickers.

I've been entertaining a proposal that might be almost as serious while retaining a notable Risibility Quotient or Jocularity Index score, to wit:

To see what I'm about to speak of, Google "plague doctor costume" if you have no memory of how the garb commonly appeared in the 17th century through London's bubonic plague infestation (I offer the prediction here that this outfit will be THE costume hit of Halloween 2020, assuming no trick-or-treat restrictions apply by then).

I have no clinical or empirical data to draw on, but my suspicion is that anyone dressed in a proper plague doctor costume (mask and gloves required, I'd go for the models that come with eye goggles, too) would have little risk of contracting a coronavirus infection in any public place. Whether the appearance would prove disarming to those encountering it or no, the helpful mask (the proboscis of which is commonly stuffed with lavender and other pleasant herbs, although I myself might opt for garlic or possibly cannabis) would surely insure respiratory health for anyone wearing one. (I'd also go for traditional oil-cloth, none of this Tyvek nonsense.)

I offer this proposal purely as a public service, since no EV prize category for "Best Costume Design" has been announced (yet).

The blog/journalism money is utterly wasted.

The research one is too small to do any real good. Other already existing financial incentives are greater.

A one billion prize might produce something useful.

Seriously? Best Treatment? LOL. Does that include "bed rest, and drink plenty of fluids"? I suppose TC's expecting some sort of MRI-looking machine which will "cure" COVID-19. I'm having trouble with understanding why anyone would expect some "new" treatment of what is an old virus (almost nearly). Deaths are (apparently) mostly due to respiratory distress. There's nothing blanking new about what treatments will and won't work. Hey, what about garlic? BTW, could the Chinese miracle be partly due to their non-use of physical currency over an enormous spread of their (consumer) economy?

A best treatment could be just a new antiviral drug acting efficiently against the coronavirus.

that sounds like a lotta work!
here is why the congressional oversite meeting this week with the cdc
looked just like itchy/funny goat yoga.
they were blaming the cdc for rejecting a bad/potentially dangerous test without mentioning the problems with the test!

sumbody at the cdc rejected a screening test with a 45 percent false negative rate
then that was probly a very smart decision !

Dating app companies could leverage their infrastructure to advance social distancing tomorrow.

Many of you are quite negative - along the lines of "this won't work". I ask: what is your contribution?

Most of the negative comments are simply pointing out that this prize structure has nothing to do with creating any incentives for people already working on covid19.

Maybe the thing you'd want to show, in a public health emergency, is that such a prize, added at the margin, would somehow reduce or interfere with response?

That seems unlikely.

This prize clearly leans in the right direction, and will get some people thinking about coronavirus and others about problem solving in general(*).

* - the other theory of prizes is that winners are unlikely to be one trick ponies, and will likely do something else interesting as well.

You honestly think there is a significant number of motivated and talented individuals who are currently completely unaware of coronavirus?

If these prizes had been announced Dec. 30 or even Jan. 30, we might be having a different discussion.

You did not really step up, to show "harm."

That is, that this $1M among the billions being spent right now, would somehow reduce or interfere with response.

In terms of efficiency or opportunity costs, as a contributor I'm not too worried. Governments and large medical companies are going to spend lots, and lots, of money in conventional ways. I see this as an extra effort.

You are right - something utterly meaningless is not a reduction or interference. It is also, to use a term below, nothing but pure virtue-signalling.

I think this only gets half the point. Sure, prizes are about creating new incentives, but they're also a way to provide a bunch of funding to people who've clearly demonstrated value, in hopes they'll continue doing and improve what they're doing. Think of these prizes more as capital investment for proven winners (many of them outside the mainstream), instead of race or lottery winnings.

So no feelings are hurt, we could also award everyone a participation trophy, though there would probably be a delay before they can be shipped in from China

A couple of random, relatively simple things I wish I had as a frontline provider for the current epidemic:
1. Some sort of "face-scratching stick" with a holder that would sterilize it between uses (e.g. a metal rod with a tactile bulb in a holder has an internal UV light to kill viral contaminates). Bonus points if it can handle being slipped behind PPE without significantly disrupting protection.
2. Some sort of face mask that efficiency sterilizes the air I breath in, rather than just filtering it. Must be cleanable with bleach/ETOH/etc; must be lightweight, have a long battery life (or easily swapped batteries). Disposables are great when there is not a shortage, but it would be nice to have a functional mask that I could put on and just bleach wipe as needed if I am going to spend my whole day on droplet precautions. Must not cost a fortune.
3. Software and adapter to hook multiple patients up to the same vent. Currently if we run short of vents we might, might be able to Y-tube and double the tidal volumes. But most patients have different tidal volumes. What I would like is some way to use valves to vent patient A in the first 20 seconds of the breath cycle, then patient B for the next 20, and possibly patient C for the next 20. I would also like the output from the vents to be isolated for each patient if possible. Even better if I can have the valving maintain PEEP in a patient while going through a dynamic breath with the next patient. Our vents can easily support double the airflow required for a lot of patients, but getting anything close to optimal breaths in will not happen off y-tubes.

I nominate infectious disease Dr. Michael Osterholm for 1, 3, and 5.

Here is the YouTube video recently released : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3URhJx0NSw

Here is Buzzfeed's summary: https://apple.news/AQCWGMVDoQT-zNmpvDmUAag

It was sent to me by a Dr. friend.

Perfect example of why this prize would not incentivize anything. This content was already created and Osterholm was not aware of this prize.

Ultimately it will be a pure transfer to the winners.

You need large, visible prizes for clear and transparent objectives. Surprised Tyler doesn't see this.

Someone is understanding why this prize has absolutely nothing to do with solving an ongoing problem.

Tyler sees what he wants to see, not what you want him to see.

Yeah, its like "prediction markets".

If the markets are so great at predictions, why didn't they predict Putin would go to war with the US economy and refuse to redistribute wealth from Russia and Saudi rent extractors to American workers paid to drill baby drill, build pipe lines, build LNG plants and shipping terminals, wind farms, battery gigafactories back in 2019, or better yet in 2015 before all the debt was created to pay workers to build too much Wrest Texas oil production capital?

Either Putin is a genius or all Trump's worst fears are colliding at once by accident. Is the market crashing because of Trump's bungling of SARS-COV2, because Saudis are announcing impossible oil production increases, because too much cash is chasing too little capital with only about three capitalists committed to paying workers to build new capital, and rent seekers getting fearful the trillions in debt will become worse than big tax bills?

If you give money to the Federall government to pay for government giving money to you, but Trump says he won't repay the money you thought you were lending to the Federal government, is that different than paying that much in taxes?

Note, the Japanese don't pay high taxes, but instead buy Japanese government bonds to pay for big government. With stagnant or declining population, growth will not shrink government debt relative to GDP, and government being the driver of so much GDP, government can't shrink as a share of GDP. Making millions of Japanese newly homeless and hungry each year will not grow GDP which exists only if customers pay for what is produced.

Markets only predict that debt can increase exponentially to fund bigger and bigger shares of slightly increasing consumption.

Until suddenly they crash in a failed prediction everyone will understand what zero sum means. Which every time ends by everyone deciding that borrowing a trillion at even 0% does not require paying a trillion in debt service. Instead, the non-zero sum economists argue a trillion is debt can be repaid by borrowing a new two trillion in debt. It has a name: MMT.

Unless you have explicitly stated objective goals or metrics like "First transatlantic flight" or "sub 10 second 100 m dash" instead of vague things like "best" something or other, these "prizes" are no different than grants.

How many people doing any of those things above would be aware of this prize and how many, even if they are aware AND would be incentivized by it, would YOU as the prize giver be aware of?

If the answer to either question is low, then it accomplishes nothing.

A prize like this is ground breaking, and what it accomplishes is priceless.

Panic and hyperventilate all you want, but all you are doing is turning Spring 2020 into "The Time When Trump Led the USA Through What We Told You Was the Completely Insurmountable Problem of Coronavirus."

What are you going to do in the summer when everything is fine? Pretend like none of this ever happened? Just like the Russia thing?

(A lot of griping about a one million dollar project, added at the margin, as financial markets lose or gain trillions in a day.)

This is neither a monetary donation nor a direct proposal to prize offer #4, but an amplification of one existing solution.

Donate your computer resources to finding a vaccine/treatment for COVID-19. Folding@home is a distributed computing platform for simulating disease-related proteins that researchers can't directly observe. You download their client, and a portion of your CPU or GPU is used to help simulate the virus, how the virus binds to human cells, and how potential drugs can prevent virus binding/replication, and probably other uses I'm unqualified to speak to. Folding@home typically works on a host of other diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's, but right now they're focusing on COVID-19 (as you do these days).

Download it here:

If you start the client and your browser keeps refreshing, OPEN THIS URL IN AN INCOGNITO BROWSER:

Workaround found here:

News release about some proteins developed using Folding@home, for further research by biologists worldwide:

How about a prize for best virtue-signalling by means of offering a prize?

Give that commenter a prize!

Especially for the perfect use of virtue-signalling instead of self-recommendingly self-serving.

In addition to the very good comments about how these prizes are of limited usefulness here, especially because they do not provide the right incentives at the right time, I have some misgivings about this:

"These are not prizes you apply for, they will be awarded by Emergent Ventures when a significant success is spotted."

The subjective, non-transparent nature of this award also diminishes its usefulness. Tyler says prizes are superior when "you value the final output more than the process", which is fine, but we don't know what the final output is for most of the items on his list and more importantly don't have a consensus on how to value it.

If this were a prize for accomplishments such as first solo non-stop transatlantic flight, first private rocket to take a human into space, or even first COVID-19 vaccine with at least 60% clinical effectiveness (but who will certify the tests of effectiveness?), then those are accomplishments that are relatively easy to measure.

Most or all of the items on Tyler's list are not nearly as clear-cut as those. What should we think when scenarios such as this occur: the CDC clearly came up with the best solution, but Emergent Ventures decides to penalize them because they screwed up with their testing regime and because they should've come up with that solution faster than they actually did. (And instead the award goes to some professor at GMU.) Maybe penalizing the CDC in that situation is justified, maybe not. But it's not a clear-cut situation such as flying from New York and landing in Paris and clearly being the first to accomplish the feat.

Is anyone experimenting with immuno-suppressant strategies? What I've read is implying the the fatality mechanism is the body's own immune response destroying lung tissue. Maybe steroid therapy or RA drugs for those who are entering the hazardous inflammatory response stage?

Yes, for example https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04280588

Thank you so much for doing this.

Yours, a grad student in the SF Bay Area.

There is a market solution to quarantine


How DARE you suppose that the free market can fix things?!!??

Would recommend a look at the Open Source Covid 19 Medical Supplies Facebook group


Welcome to Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies (OSCMS), formerly known as the Open Source Ventilator Project. I started this group to quickly develop an open source ventilator, as it seemed obvious to me that global supplies would run out. After speaking to medical professionals all over the globe, it became even more obvious that we will quickly run out of MOST COVID19-RELATED MEDICAL SUPPLIES, and ventilators are only a small part of the problem. I have been introduced to a number of groups who are already working on open source efforts to develop ventilators and other projects. We want to help them succeed rather than to duplicate their efforts.
The biggest problems here are:
a) COVID19 is incredibly infectious, due to a 5-day incubation period with presymptomatic transmission;
b) It sends 15-20% of infected people to the hospital for respiratory failure;
c) Patients are then hospitalized for weeks. During this time, medical supplies are needed to support both patients as well as healthcare workers.
We therefore will run short of supplies (particularly with supply chain disruptions), and we will likely require alternative medical solutions globally.
We are the largest and fastest-growing community addressing this issue head-on. Our mission is to be a virally-growing (sorry) portal that:
a) Educates as many people as possible, as accurately as possible, on problems and helpful solutions;
b) Directs volunteers of various skills and backgrounds appropriately to dedicated teams around the world;
c) Shares potential solutions to effective medical supply problems far and wide;
d) Helps coordinate local and global responses when and where appropriate.
You will see a lot of formalization and additional structure over the next few days, accordingly.
Regardless of your background, your first job is educating yourself on the realities that are being faced here. Please take a moment when you join to read the Introduction section in the requirements document linked in the comments below.
Your second job is to identify friends who are interested in joining and helping, particularly if they are: medical professionals, engineers, project managers, makers, fabricators, or people who are tied into any relevant communities. The larger this community is, the more effective a global response it can mount.
If you would like to specifically offer your engineering or project management expertise to developing open source solutions, please see links to helpful organizations in the comments.
We ourselves need writers, moderators and community wranglers from all over the world, medical professional volunteers, connectors to related medical + engineering + fabrication + supply organizations, and externally-focused communications team members. Please comment below if you would like to join our expanding communications & media team behind the group. "

This seems like such a simple idea that it must've been brought up before. If so, I apologize. It seems similar to the link in Tyler's original "scalable respirators" post but not quite the same.

I'm seeing stories about medical professionals hacking ventilators for use by more than one person. Are all ventilators built for use by one patient at a time?

If they are, maybe we should consider a switch in strategy. Don't ramp up production of one-patient ventilators. Start building ventilators that are meant to serve multiple patients at a time for crisis situations like the one we're currently in.

I think the three efforts under the banner United Against Covid to source volunteer help for researchers working on Covid seem promising and a potential candidate for a prize.


Fight against corona

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