The FDA and Coronavirus

The failure of the FDA/CDC to adequately prepare for coronavirus, despite weeks of advance notice from China is one of the most shocking and serious examples of government failure that I have seen in my lifetime. After being prevented from doing so, private laboratories are now allowed to offer coronavirus tests and Bill and Melinda Gates’s Foundation is working on an at home swab and test.

But what happens when people get sick? What drugs will patients be allowed to try given that there is no standard treatment available? One experimental antiviral, Remdesivir, was given to the first US patient who was on a downward spiral but seemed to recover after receiving the drug. Gilead, the manufacturer says:

Remdesivir is not yet licensed or approved anywhere globally and has not been demonstrated to be safe or effective for any use. At the request of treating physicians, and with the support of local regulatory agencies, who have weighed the risks and benefits of providing an experimental drug with no data in 2019-nCoV, Gilead has provided remdesivir for use in a small number of patients with 2019-nCoV for emergency treatment in the absence of any approved treatment options.

If Gilead is willing to supply, should patients have a right to try? This seems like a good case for the dual tracking approach proposed by Bartley Madden–let patients try unapproved drugs but collect all information in a public database for analysis. Clinical trials for Remdesivir and other potential drugs are currently underway in China.

Chloroquine, might also be useful against Covid-19. Chloroquine was approved long ago to treat malaria and physicians are allowed to prescribe old drugs for new uses. New uses for old drugs are discovered all the time and they do not have to go through long and costly FDA approval procedures before being prescribed for the new uses. Since chloroquine has never been tested for efficacy against coronovirus, allowing physicians to prescribe it is similar to allowing physicians to prescribe an unapproved drug like Remdesivir. The difference in how new drugs and old drugs for new uses are treated is something of a regulatory anomaly but a fortunate one as I argue in my paper on off-label prescribing.

I suspect that my arguments for less FDA regulation will be relatively well received during the current climate of fear. Bear in mind, however, that for the patient who is dying it’s always an emergency.

Hat tip: Balaji Srinivasan, who really would make a great FDA commissioner.


Arguably we have better safety and post marketing data for old drugs, especially the ones who were widely used

I understand that was Obama era policies that caused the problem.

An assertion offered without a shred of evidence.

Will we be able to buy drugs from Canada now?

If it hurts the American healthcare industry, then probably not. We must ensure members of the upper caste keep their monopoly privileges. This blog and the establishment don't like actual free markets nor real competition because they are funded by these very same rent seekers. Adam Smith will roll in his grave.

lol a notorious communist agitator, that's almost as scary as the flu

According to experts, Senator Sanders might be "a totalitarian hiding in plain sight". His rule might, according to experts, lead to prife controls, shortages, curtailing of the free enterprise and public executions.

oh dear, I had no idea. Personally, I think public executions might have a salutary effect on civility. But I stridently oppose prife controls.

I obviously meant "price controls". My point is, according to experts, voting for Senator Sanders might lead to a dystopian totalitarian regime and harm America's response to the coronavirus crisis. Mr. Sanders is known to have praised Fidel Castro and honeymooned in the Soviet Union, a country president Reagan famously called an Evil Empire.
On the other hand, Joe is considered reliable, honest, down-to-earth, hard-working and sharp.

As a Delawarean myself, I look forward to having Joe as our president.

Trump has succeeded in compromising even scientists in his administration because they know Trump can and does ruin careers: A fish rots from the head down.

...yea the Washington Post is hardly a credible source on ANYTHING related to politics, Republicans, or Trump.

Despite “weeks” of advance notice this is one of the most “shocking examples” of government incompetence. Weeks. Ok

Said absolutely no one at the Mercatus Center.

Less FDA requirements .. but how low do you go? Are TV ads claiming garlic pills prevent infection still bad?

Maybe flipping a magic coin can tell you if you have chronovirus!

If you can believe, Jim Bakker's program has been advertising bottles of Silver Solution (or some such) for the low, low price of 125 dollars.

If you can believe it, the NY State attorney's office sent a letter that they need to stop making claims about this product curing covid19 or else be charged with fraud.

I think the right to try should definitely include whatever product Jim Bakker profits from selling to his audience, without any meddlesome FDA regulations standing in the way of the right to try his product to cure covid19.

Disagree. It's better that some sick people die who might have been saved than people I don't like be able to run a scam that defrauds people of tens of dollars.

The idea of Trump supporters paying $125 for a coronavirus cure and then spreading coronavirus to their fellow Trump supporters after being cure has a lot of appeal to this political cynic who rejects free lunch, voodoo economics, and advocates Keynesian and FDR high cost building of so much capital the price of capital falls below its labor costs.

Keynes, as an economist, would argue for government policies that results in so many workers paid to develop preventions/cures for every harmful virus, bacteria, parasites that all harms have multiple preventions/cures or quickly get them, that curing all harmful infections costs only the marginal labor cost of treatment, with zero economic profit, and patents having zero value, other than their education value to others in the trade.

The counter to Bakker is farm coops bottling corn ethanol which they have in excess and having Trump peddle it for sale at $50 a bottle, marked down to $1 a bottle for a case of 12, with two free cases thrown in for free, on paying shipping and handling costs of $19.95 per case.

Then Amazon would counter with Basic brand bottled corn ethanol cleaning solution at $10 a gallon bottle with free shipping. Which Trump would attack as Bezos getting rich off Federal corn subsidies and Federal bio ethanol production subsidies/mandates.

How about leaving vaping alone? I think that situation was an indication of the ridiculous incompetence of the FDA and other agencies. Agenda driven bunch of idiots.

Think how well the FBI handled FISA and you probably get an indication of the general competence of government agencies.

Vaping is interesting. It did kill. But it took a bit of data to narrow down which (amateur) formulations were doing the killing.

What is your vantage from Canada, that the US should allow such deaths?

Honestly, as an old developer of clinical diagnostics, I think it's possible for an economist to run away from the realities of science on this.

To say the answer is everything should be less restricted is to open the door to patent medicine.

Without gatekeepers, magic coins and radium rings go back on sale.

Why should I have to go to Mexico to get my radium ring??

Somewhere, in the vast spectrum of options with snake oil at one extreme and severe dysfunction during a global emergency at the other extreme, there is surely a happy medium.

Sure, but the only person who can make that call is a public health professional. It is a particular specialty suited to this moment.

And so in that moment we must trust their expertise. Regulators have experience with all sides of the coin: good medicines, bad medicines, fake medicines.

Regulators want what's best for regulators.

How abnormal do you really have to be, to believe in zero altruism?

Even if you don't feel it, learn to recognize it in others.

Regulators aren't entirely self-interested, but they're not unself-interested, either!

If there's ever a time to expect people's self-interest to be somewhat muted, it's during a pandemic. If you still think everyone doesn't give a shit about everyone else, that says more about you.

You can expect all you want; it doesn't mean other people are going to meet your expectations. I said nothing about "not giving a shit" about other people, so please don't put words in my mouth or mischaracterize my remarks. If you can't grasp the simple fact that self interest informs the actions of individuals in ways that may skew their perceptions and their decision-making processes, I don't know what to tell you.

If you can't grasp the simple fact that self interest tends to be muted when people are trying to do their jobs to handle a crisis, then I don't know what to tell you either.


I’d split the difference between you both and just say “incentives matter.”

It’s less about altruism/morality/lack thereof and more about incentives shaped by the particular institutions In question.

Alex is outraged that Obama destroyed Alex's investment in Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes.

If she had her way, Theronos would be selling a test for $50, marked up from $25 due to demand, for an instant coronavirus test. So, instant, you pay $50, and open the kit and get a certification you are exempt from all quarantine restrictions.

I think anti-Administration comments are being censored.

Fearmongerers are scum, and deserve deletion.

Fear mongerers hahahah. Apparently you didn’t notice the 2016 campaign, which the fear mongerer in chief pulled off with amazing efficiency. What goes around comes around. Unfortunately, even when it’s bad for us all.

No, they're just deleting posts by Russian trolls.

I fully agree with the general direction of thinking here, but surely there is an obvious difference in risk between trying a drug that has previously been approved for a different purpose and trying a brand new drug.

I think it is an open question whether and how much the administration interfered with CDC decision making early in the outbreak. The decision that America should have it's own test was in keeping with past practice, so presumably had nothing to do with Trump. But the general approach to downplaying the risk, to drag our feet on testing, and to try to juke the stats probably comes from Trump's administration.

Let's see how well South Korea does with it's extensive testing regime. If it turns out early testing plus quarantine for infected can slow the outbreak in it's early stages, making containment possible, then America may have missed a real opportunity to get ahead of this.

"But the general approach to downplaying the risk, to drag our feet on testing, and to try to juke the stats probably comes from Trump's administration." Trump has not downplayed the risks. In reality, he closed travel early taking the risk of stoking fears. This step has proven to be the right step to take despite the criticism that he's both doing too much and not enough. The CDC has effed up because it's been politicized for years. Had Trump interfered there would be complaining about this as well.

Trump never does anything wrong, Democrats always do. Why do you post here, we already know what you are going to say?

To be honest, attempts to make this primarily about Trump are dumb; yes, he mutters some nonsense as he always does, and mostly no one listens to him. The failure here has been principle with the CDC and FDA.

I don’t care to defend Trump, he’s a boba dude moron, but it concerns me that he’s serving as a lightening rod for statists who reflexively defend bureaucratic agencies and regulations no matter how much harm they cause, and who’s only solution to those failures is to reward the agencies that screw up with more funding. These agencies deserve to face a reckoning for what has happened, and Trump shouldn’t distract us from that.

Ah yes, the justifying rationale for ignoring our rules, regulations, traditions, protections and civil rights... EMERGENCY!

Surely there's a Libertarian around here that can spot the flaw in this reasoning. (Oh wait, it's to undo regulations. That's cool then. I'm sure the precedent won't be abused in some way)

As Rahm Emanual said, you should never waste a crisis so you can get what you want.

I heard about this dynamic female entrepreneur on the West Coast
Who had this really good blood testing system which tested only one drop of blood
Maybe she can help us,
I understand that the FDA stopped that innovation.
Wonder whatever happened to her?
The FDA once again stood in the way of innovation.

Not sure that's a great example. Theranos was able to fool various regulators for quite some time (as well as investors, I should add), and the whole thing only came crashing down because of internal whistleblowers.

Did the FDA outlaw your sarcasm detector?

No, I understood perfectly. I think you misunderstood my response. Try reading it again, smart guy.

Hey, maybe we can get the Boeing quality control people in charge of this.

Light touch regulation worked for them.

Yes and no. Their latest efforts to reconfigure their plane and leave some suspect wire bundles in place has been rejected. So yes and no.

Our civil rights? The civil right to be prevented by force from taking medication not approved by the demonstrably all-knowing, beneficent FDA?

Next you’ll complain that pot legalization violates your civil right to not be allowed to smoke pot. Go take a remedial course in logic.

uh, look, you are having so much fun with your little rant I almost hate to point out the "precedent" portion of the argument. But hey, don't let poor reading comprehension stop ya.

There's also the question of whether testing or any new drug is a silver bullet at all. Would testing really determine whether the LA Marathon should have been run? What are you going to do, mail out tests to athletes and their families before they descend on LA?

No, more people should be spending their energies on defining the correct course of actions given available tests and treatments.

Wash your hands.

More from the Red Cross.

This is a public health event more than it is a teaching moment.

Take individual action, #FlattenTheCurve.

"There's also the question of whether testing or any new drug is a silver bullet at all. "

Of course it's not a silver bullet. There are no silver bullets. But are you seriously suggesting that expanded testing would be of no use in containing and slowing the spread of the virus!?

On a personal level, wouldn't you like to be able to make sure that you, yourself, were not infected before going to visit elderly relatives?

You have completely missed my point.

Testing is great, but if it's not available it costs lives to wait for that to happen.

Guess what? I called my mom and told her to stay home and didn't visit her. I told her if she needed anything I would drop it and leave it on her front step.

I'm ready to send my mom food to her front door - but only with drones.

It would be a good time to have self-cleaning drones!

I wonder how the virus holds up under UV, both natural and lamps.

Like it does other viruses. That's why warm weather (sunshine) helps prevent transmission.

I sent my dad a book via drone. He didn’t know what it was and threatened to shoot it.

He didn't know what a book was?

Odin is more of a Runic Scroll kind of guy.

Outstanding quip, +5 i.p.

Note: it's a negotiation to get anyone to reduce social interactions, but any reduction is net-net good.

It only takes a few months of this to #FlattenTheCurve

"As data scientists, we have done our best to look at the data around covid-19, and what it means to you and your community.

Our view: it is appropriate to be very concerned, and significantly change your lifestyle, right now."

"...not yet licensed or approved anywhere globally.".

Just so we're clear, this isn't an FDA issue. This is a question that no regulator anywhere in the world has answered.

Similarly, the argument that the US has failed to achieve containment through testing is weakened by the fact that no other country really has either. The UK is on the verge of abandoning containment, cases are spiking in Germany, and Italy of course is in total disarray. South Korea had a leg up in that the single point of entry was well-defined, and Taiwan is an island.

I don't see how the FDA could prevent doctors from prescribing old drugs for new uses anyway.

There's the Winston Churchill explanation for Trump's failure to act: You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else. My friend who are Trump followers have the What About Obama explanation: in every crisis Obama felt that he must do something to prove himself a worthy president, even if doing something made matters worse.

Trump of course did act to bar flights from China. If you are suggesting that he should have done more to overrule the experts at the CDC and FDA, I think it's incumbent upon you to specify exactly what that was.

"Trump of course did act to bar flights from China." That was almost certainly a good and timely move. So on COVID-19: Trump 1 - Federal science bureaucrats 0.
It seems unlikely that Trump will keep scoring goals though, on the grounds that he's a silly ass. After all he was elected for being less appalling than Hellary, a low bar if ever there was one.

"Trump of course did act to bar flights from China." That was almost certainly a good and timely move. So on COVID-19: Trump 1 - Federal science bureaucrats 0.
It seems unlikely that Trump will keep scoring goals though, on the grounds that he's a silly ass. After all he was elected for being less appalling than Hellary, a low bar if ever there was one.

I see no threat of the competition raising the bar anytime soon.

Yes, what will the Dem election slogan be? "Vote Biden - he's even iller than Hellary so he'll do less harm."

Here is Biden's advice directly from his mouth. See if it makes sense to you:

“I wish he [Trump] would just be quiet. I really mean it. That’s an awful thing to say about a president; I wish he’d be quiet. Just let the experts speak and acknowledge whatever they suggest to him is what we should be doing.”

It makes no sense indeed. That's precisely what Trump did, and other opponents are faulting him because the experts were not ready with enough tests. As always, Trump is fortunate in the incoherence of his opposition.

Nope. Trump disbanded the team of people who should have and would have been working on this as soon as it was known about. It was his CDC that opted to use a more complicated test that failed. He only cut flights from China for non-US citizens, as if US citizens were immune somehow.

Maybe worst of all he keeps claiming that the disease is contained, we have plenty of tests, nothing to worry about. While we dont know how bad this will get, it is something we should worry about and let people know there is risk.


The assertion about cuts to the CDC has long since been exposed as false. The rest of what you're saying is the usual mishmash of "Trump should have overruled the experts and Trump should listen to the experts."

Not really, no.

Our resident LARP Boomer left wing activist is learning in real time that our politicians are lying self dealing morons, and that our federal bureaucrats are much more interested in not being responsible for anything at all than stopping a crisis.

His solution is to elect Joe Biden, who’s self admittedly running for US Senate in South Carolina.


Actually, as a common American and a Delawarean, I think Joe is the right person to lead America in a crisis such as this one.

"Hat tip: Balaji Srinivasan, who really would make a great FDA commissioner."

This bitcoin peddling Balaji Srinivasan?

The memory of the tragedy of thalidomide has faded while its occurrence was a major justification for the lasting power of the FDA. They don't intend to ever again be accomplices in a such a disaster.

Joe Biden has vowed to give every American access to affordable health insurance, stand up to abuse of power by prescription drug corporations and repeal the outrageous exception allowing drug corporations to avoid negotiating with Medicare over drug prices. We know Joe!

Joe Biden doesn't know if he's afoot or horseback.

He knows pretty well if he's afoot or horseback.

+1, he's well over the 80% confidence level at determining what state he's in at any given time.

Joe Biden declaring which state he is physically located in is barely more accurate in this particular detail than yet another one of Thiago’s incarnations.

Only one is intentionally wrong. Bring on the think pieces about “why dementia doesn’t matter...”

Remember that when the coronavirus comes knocking on your door only two things will save you: praying to Jesus and as a back up taking 600 mg of NR every morning.

Yet, Brazil has all but stopped the virus dissemination.

Brazilians are really into praying to Jesus. So much so that they can forego the back up NR.

But some Brazilians practice African cults or are Spiritualists. I think Brazil's leadership's quick thinking is to be praised.

Brazil Nuts = lotsa selenium

Selenium is good, but I do not think it explains all Brazilian advantage in public health outcomes. All thi gs co sided, Brazil's leadership should be praised, too.

The current administration has systematically dismantled our abilities to respond to disease such as the coronavirus, and wasted the months available when we knew it existed and would likely spread. Now, despite that serious, ongoing mismanagement your argument is that regulations are the problem?

FDA regulations are a good example of regulations that exist because someone or multiple people died. Letting people try whatever drug the internet, pundit, or doctor with vested interest comes up with is far more dangerous than the virus itself. We have regulations of medications because by the time people realize they made a mistake in selecting whatever snake oil is peddled to them, they may already have spread the disease further, died of the virus, or have had complications from the 'medicine' that affect them for the rest of their lives.

Excellent post.

Will Bill and Melinda Gates allow their money to be used to help actual Americans? That would be a first.

Do you need a safe space?

Actually, this raises a different question:

Why does a Foundation have to do this and not the market?

Philanthropic foundations are a market response to taxation and regulation.

Ha. Ha. That's a good one.

"Will Bill and Melinda Gates allow their money to be used to help actual Americans? That would be a first."

The Gates Foundation is either famous or notorious, depending on your point of view, for its substantial interest in and spending on education initiatives in the U.S.

Next time, when the urge hits to fire off a smug, uninformed hot-take, just take a deep breath and spend a minute or two googling.

"education initiatives in the U.S." But aren't those well known not to work?

+1, The Gates Foundation has done good work.

It’s a turf war. The entrenched are protecting their rice bowls (possibly literally) instead of the American people. It just happened to be glaringly exposed during this administration.

It would have happened under a different administration. And there have been articles over the years about the FDA and CDC and the red tape.

But the answer is even more government and overreach right?

Unfortunately, either politics Trumps all or some of the people working there are really stupid. Or both.

Instead of being promoted, like in Epstein didn’t kill himself, people need to be fired.

Doesn't the fact that the first Covid-19 patient treated in the U.S. received treatment with an experimental anti-viral under the FDA's compassionate use regimen demonstrate that the existing regulations worked as intended, balancing risk and reward based on current data?

>"The failure of the FDA/CDC to adequately prepare for coronavirus, despite weeks of advance notice from China is one of the most shocking and serious examples of government failure that I have seen in my lifetime."

Yeah I'd believe that if you were two months old.

Still butthurt from 2016, eh? Man, that's a lot of rectal anguish. And still five years to go...

But Trump will be out of office in 10 months.

Since we have outsourced 97% of our antibiotic production and 80% of our active medical ingredient production, shouldn’t we outsource the FDA/CDC to China too? Chinese regulatory services would be undoubtedly not only cheaper but of higher quality as well. Free trade in regulatory services obviously represents the best of all possible worlds. Perhaps if we funded the WTO to do so, they could open a contracting office to competitively outsource all the regulatory services in which the USA lacks a competitive advantage.

I strongly recommend tuning into SiriusXM channel 121. It's a 24 hour channel devoted entirely to the coronavirus and guess what? It's the most sober, calming coverage you will find. Real (not TV) doctors and experts explaining and answering questions. The level of fear, alarm and outrage is a fraction of what you'll find elsewhere in the media. They recommend very little change to behavior and really downplay the advantages of testing.


Although as far as changing behavior, no we don't need to go full prepper lockdown. But we should all do the easy stuff: wash hands, avoid the sick, avoid large gatherings (but don't freak out about them either), especially if you are older.

We sometimes forget that predicted major changes often need stepfunction type events to really get moving:

This is a GOP problem and has been for a long time, I was alive and well and living in the San Francisco Bay Area when Ronald Reagan refused to even use the words gay or AIDS or HIV for the first 7 of his 8 years in office, time lost when tens of thousands died and the government was not allowed to do any real science into the HIV epidemic. They left it mostly to the French who spent more and discovered more in that time than the US and all it's brilliant minds put together. It was conservative policy and refusal to even acknowledge the epidemic as long as it was only killing gay men.

Every person and each political party has it's blind spots and the mature and rational thing to do is admit that and move on, blaming Hillary and Obama is not productive.

There is absolutely no doubt that Trump put the Wall Street economy ahead of the public health and safety, so as far as I am concerned that is an impeachable offense and we need to fire up the hearings again.

So HIV would have cleaned up its act if Reagan had gone on TV and bad-mouthed it? How is that not magical thinking?
Meanwhile we'd be better off if that anal orifice in the Oval Office never said a word about covid-19 and just went golfing and let the public health authorities do it their thing unimpeded.

"They left it mostly to the French ...": who were rewarded by an American falsely claiming to have identified the virus.

This is a GOP problem and has been for a long time, I was alive and well and living in the San Francisco Bay Area when Ronald Reagan refused to even use the words gay or AIDS or HIV for the first 7 of his 8 years in office, time lost when tens of thousands died and the government was not allowed to do any real science into the HIV epidemic.

This is an interesting comment.

Andrew Sullivan wrote about this years ago. If I remember it right, Reagan was more involved because these were his coworkers and friends being affected. Andrew‘s article gave more context and Reagan’s response was more than was generally known.

I also think I read the feds wanted to shut down the bath houses but the local governments refused.

But I read this a long time ago.

As a common American, I want to know someone is out there looking out for my family's interests. Joe is an experienced public officer whose accomplishments speaker for themselves. As vice president, he helped to control the economic collapse Republican laissez faire policies created. Joe was Spock to Obama's Kirk. Now it is his turn in the White House. We know Joe!

Biden as Spock? Haha, I love these bots.

Anybody figured out yet if these pro-Biden comments are Straussian trolls or true believers? If they are being satirical, they're right on the bleeding edge of it.

At least we'll always have rayward to pity.

Oddly enough, they are probably a Russian troll that used to masquerade as a Brazilian troll. It's a weird world.

The at home swab test kit being developed by the Gates Foundation is encouraging. Hopefully the government does not interfere with it being made available.
This is the American kind of response - let the private sector step up with market priced test kits and medications, and get out of the way.

Hopefully this will be coupled with a rational response in society to self-isolate, socially distance, and wash hands a lot more, though I'm a bit less hopeful of that.

A Foundation is the private sector? Does the Foundation expect to turn a profit?

Don't you trust the market so that you now have to rely on private Foundations run or sponsored by wealthy individuals?

The meme of the government is your enemy can be sickening.

Of course it's the private sector you nitwit.

By private sector you mean make a profit by the foundation?

From Wiki: " The private sector is composed of the economic sectors that are intended to earn a profit for the owners of the enterprise."

Get your blinders fixed.

"By private sector you mean make a profit by the foundation?"

What does that have to do with? Churches are non-profit. But they are obviously not part of the government in the US. Nor is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

You have a problem with the definition of the private sector? You can always post your definition on Wiki and see if it escapes editorial revision. But, until 1984 comes and you can change the definition and meaning of terms, I will continue to use the definition of private sector as commonly used.


You’ve defined all human interactions between private individuals that doesn’t involve literal monetary profit as the public sphere

Dumb, indefensibly illogical.

Cal State is recruiting future lawyers with this poor LSATs?

"You have a problem with the definition of the private sector?"

I don't have a problem with the definition:

(Merriam-Websters) private sector -
the part of an economy which is not controlled or owned by the government

From Wikipedia:
"The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF),.., is an American private foundation founded by Bill and Melinda Gates.
The Gates Foundation is a Non-operating private foundation 501(c)."

Better tell Hazel who said: " let the private sector step up with market priced test kits and medications...." and better tell Wiki which defined the private sector as " The private sector is composed of the economic sectors that are intended to earn a profit for the owners of the enterprise."

I think you are missing the point of Hazel's reliance on the private sector, and ignoring the non-market non profit maximizing behavior of a non-profit foundation.

Earlier, before Hazel's comment, I asked the question of why a Foundation would be doing this and not the market. There is an answer for that question, which, if you had ever taken an econ course, you would know the answer to it.

C'mon guys, I expect you to be able to answer this question. Am waiting for your reply.

Hint: Look up the phrase positive externality. Look up the phrase positive externality and subsidy. Consider the effectiveness of a program which rations out some participants from receiving the benefit of testing and how that affects the effectiveness of the program as a whole. It's not hard. For a bonus point: Ask why the government will likely be the purchaser or provide the subsidy. Construct a supply curve with or without subsidy. You can do it. Or, maybe you need a link to go back to school: or maybe you need a video:

Is the Gates Foundation privately owned?

Is it privately owned? Sure, why not say it is privately owned.

Is it required to operate in a fashion that does not benefit its owners in any monetary way? Absolutely, as the disbanded Trump Foundation demonstrates.

Yes, per Wiki, it is a Private foundation.

The market price for those kits the Gates Foundation is zero. They are giving them away, you know, like a non-profit would.

And it companies want to sell them for a profit we should let them. Price gouging laws only suppress supply. Profit isn’t the enemy, for Christ’s sake.

God damn it FDA is horrible. Is there really no political will to fix the FDA? What other nations have corresponding departments that work better? Where are our role models for this?

The key is that we need to make sure with untested drugs that they are closely monitored so we know if they are helping, not harming patients. The current programs set up for emergency use of untested drugs do that.


Right to Try is already the law of the land. It is purely a decision for the companies and whether they want to provide the patient the drug.

The Bartley J. Madden Chair in Economics at the Mercatus Center gets told this every single time he posts such things.

It makes no difference.

Alex is absolutely right on chloroquine, and I can't see any precautionary reasons that would argue against allowing much more widespread release of its use this time.

Reducing regulatory thresholds in a crisis is really only rational, and it should enjoy bipartisan consensus. Stringent safety restrictions for a flu vaccine is one thing, but as the mortality rate of the disease goes up, the cost of doing nothing rises, and thus the relative safety risks of the prospective treatment decline. We should this be willing to be less risk averse with covid19 treatments and vaccines than with the flu. Regulations should not be treated even by their supporters as one size fits all.

Bearing in mind that 100% of the population get vaccinated against a mild cold, in order to potentially benefit some number like 1% or less of the population who are at greater risk of dying (2% of the xx% percent of the population who would get sick).

Also bearing in mind, despite having decades to perfect it, the existing flu vaccine is rarely as effective as hoped. In other words, there's no guarantee that we abandon our safety protocols and get much of any benefit as a population in exchange the the risk.

And don't forget the Gulf War Vets, who probably have a opinion on the matter of hurrying preventative treatments without testing.

Another pundit wrote:

> You’re going to hear a lot of commentary that will attempt to shoehorn every development in the fight against coronavirus into a “Trump is terrible” or “Trump is awesome” narrative.

Tabarrok sounds like he chose the former. That really lowers my view of Tabarrok to a typical partisan pundit. I do agree with Tabarrok's policy recommendations of deregulation and "right to try", btw.

You have been quick to criticise the FDA and CDC on test availability. Wide spread easy availability of test kits brings new problems that you fail to recognize. There is an almost complete lack of knowledge on the specificity of these tests, i.e. their ability to produce false positives. If the base rate of infection is very low (indeed likely minuscule) and the tests produce a say 2% false positive, then there will be an enormous number of people who falsely think they have the disease.

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