Washington Post covers Fast Grants

Here is the opening:

Economist Tyler Cowen first sounded the alarm that America is unprepared for a pandemic in 2005, when he wrote a paper outlining ways the country should respond and, for a few years, ran a blog focused on the possibility of an avian flu outbreak.

Fifteen years later, as a novel coronavirus brings Cowen’s fears into reality, the George Mason University professor is trying to fix what he and others view as a structural problem impeding the scientific response to the crisis: the months-long application and review process scientists must endure to get their research funded.

Here is the full story by Will Hobson.  Recommended.


America is also not prepared fro the huge tsunami that will wash away the Pacific Northwest of the USA in the future. The time to begin preparing is NOW!

Good point, except insert "global warming causing rising sea levels" for "huge tsunami". And you misspelled "for".

Tsunamis are rectangular in the dimension of portfolio reiteration.

""global warming causing rising sea levels" "

That's estimated to be 3-6 feet over the next 80 years. Somehow or other, I think we'll manage.

At least if you are using science as a source and not click bait articles.

Has Typer yet written an article on how we are unprepared for a meteor strike, earthquake somewhere, volcano somewhere, rising sea levels, falling water tables, and lots of other possible calamities? He could write papers on all of these issues and perhaps after his death earn a reputation as a modern day Nostradamus.

'It is with sadness that we announce that avianflu.typepad.com is going dormant. This is for two reasons. First, our original mission was to provide accurate information on a newly developing topic. While misconceptions continue to prevail, there are now numerous informative and excellent sites on the avian flu topic. You will find many of these listed on this very blog. Second, both Silviu and Tyler have some external commitments, which prevent them from upgrading our offerings to remain unique.'

Someone was sad that avian flu did not turn out to be a disaster?

Your reading comprehension is very poor. They weren't sad that avian flu was not a disaster, they were sad that they had better things to do with their time than keep covering a nothingburger. Economists have a real talent for always keeping themselves relevant in whatever situation arises.

A lot of philanthropy these last few months for obvious reasons including a big +1 to Fast Grants. Relatedly, here's a link to track the good work of billionaires:


lol. koch donates money to himself. molex and georgia-pacific are his own companies. that's not real philanthropy. that's trump style philanthropy.

Tyler, can you teach Trump how to give out money since he seems to be having a hard time there?

Nice story. We don't know how these Fast Grants will pan out but it's a nice idea. Deserved kudos, in contrast to that guy in Japan who Tyler linked to and who was maybe 1/3 doing legit work and fact-finding and 2/3 self-puffery and apocalyptic Chicken Littling.

Every flu season we should shut down the economy and give free money.

People who make these sorts of comments seem to be completely unaware that there are vaccines and treatments for the flu. There is also a rather obvious policy proposal the U.S. could pursue: join most of the developed world in mandating paid sick leave. Throw in the Japanese social norm to always wear a mask when feeling sick and around others and we could probably make a real dent in seasonal flu.

Indeed. I'd add that if COVID pay is something we want to bear across society, we could do it by means of the Social Security or Unemployment infrastructure. We could all pay in together, as we ask some smaller number of positive/symptomatics to quarantine.

No need to especially burden small business.

The left's "solution" is almost invariably "join most of the developed world" in expanding the welfare state.

Cowen's work won't be done after he helps fund the production of a vaccine, for the difficult task comes next. What difficult task? Getting the vaccine distributed throughout the world, not just in America and other wealthy countries. That will require enormous effort and financial resources and will have little support as compared to producing the vaccine. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/29/opinion/coronavirus-vaccine.html [This comment is not intended to diminish the phenomenal work of Cowen and Fast Grants and the generous contributions from those who make it possible, but as a reminder that, in the case of contagions like the coronavirus, inequality (in this case in the distribution of a vaccine) is deadly to everyone.]

Gates Foundation is taking care of this.

Cowen continues to impress. Here is someone who has written and spoken about the benefits of big (i.e., big business) funding the small (i.e., independent researchers). No, I'm not saying Cowen is inconsistent, I'm saying he has a flexible mind. That's the mark of a true intellectual. Where does innovation come from? Often the garage.

And then you go post at MoneyIllusion about hypocritical Tyler’s defences of big business, and monopoly, while toadying here?

Get a hobby!

He's an attorney. What do you expect?

Dead Coronavirus Particles Muddy the Outcome of Test Results
Yes, they have antibodies. Live and dead virus type vaccines work equally well. This is the coronas family, add that to the model. Low immune period, but pretty low ARDS rate. Our bodies have never actually beaten this family to extinction.

Here's an interesting time line with graphics written by a writer not an expert: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/04/30/opinion/coronavirus-covid-vaccine.html What he does is consider each step in the process of creating a vaccine and what can be done to speed it up. The step he expresses the most concern about is production because it will take a massive facility to produce the volume of the vaccines that will be needed. That's why the Bill and Linda Gates contribution is so important (they intend to build seven production facilities in advance). And here's the dilemma: with so many different researchers pursuing different paths to the development of vaccines, choosing the right ones to produce will be critical because there will be a finite number that can be chosen for production and if the right one isn't chosen, it would delay the production of an effective vaccine for years. My word, whoever is on the panel to make the decision which vaccine to produce will be under an enormous amount of pressure. If the panel doesn't choose the right vaccine, we may be toast, and so will members of the panel. Will Cowen volunteer?

Her name is Melinda. Sorry.

"The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says it will build factories for seven different vaccines. “Even though we’ll end up picking at most two of them, we’re going to fund factories for all seven, just so that we don’t waste time,” Bill Gates said during an appearance on “The Daily Show.”' Not sure who "we" (the persons choosing the vaccines to be produced) will be, but Gates seems to be indicating that, by choosing only two, "we" will have more capacity in case the two chosen turn out to be inefficacious. Is this the most efficient way to go? Or would choosing seven be more efficient? What would an economist do?

Excellent observation. Your comments in this thread have been spot on.

Isn't Operations Research/Applied Mathematics available to correctly inform that decision?

is the swedish approach getting weird & medieval?


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