Get BARDA More Money!

The NYTimes headline is Coronavirus Attacks the Lungs. A Federal Agency Just Halted Funding for New Lung Treatments and they do try their best to make this a scandal:

When the coronavirus kills, it attacks the lungs, filling them with fluid and robbing the body of oxygen. In chest X-rays, clear lungs turn white, a sign of how dangerously sick patients are.

But earlier this month, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, a federal health agency, abruptly notified companies and researchers that it was halting funding for treatments for this severe form of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

The new policy highlights how staunchly the Trump administration has placed its bet on vaccines as the way to return American society and the economy to normal in a presidential election year. BARDA has pledged more than $2.2 billion in deals with five vaccine manufacturers for the coronavirus, compared with about $359 million toward potential Covid-19 treatments.

I think diverting funding from lung treatments to vaccines is the right thing to do. Note that we are not talking about reducing spending on patients. BARDA, as the name suggests, funds advanced research and development. Thus, the administration is diverting funding from advanced research and development for lung treatments to vaccines. What’s better a vaccine that prevents a lung treatment from ever being needed or a lung treatment? A billion dollars spent on vaccines looks a lot more productive right now than a billion dollars spent on investigating new lung treatments.

The real scandal is how little we are spending on advanced research for vaccines–$2.2 billion is a pittance, less than a day’s worth of economic loss caused by COVID. Given their limited budget, BARDA is making good investments. Congress, however, has not allocated enough money to BARDA, one of the few agencies that had the foresight to do the right things, such as investing in emergency vaccine capacity, even before the pandemic hit. Congress’s failure to fund BARDA is why the administration is scraping the bottom of the barrel to get them all the funding they can.

We should go big, really big, on vaccines. But when I talk with people in Congress, I tell them that a big plan is ideal but if we can’t do that then at least GET BARDA MORE MONEY!

Addendum: The fact that BARDA can’t get enough funding from Congress in a pandemic is a good example of why we need a Pandemic Trust Fund.

Comments

The answer to bad government is not more government.

A bloodthirsty slave-driver once observed "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."

Not owning slaves I don't myself find it necessary to virtue-signal about liberty the whole time.

I am amazed at the total lack of skepticism of AT and TC regarding the NYT and The WaPo as “news” sources.

Huh? The entire post disagrees with a NYT article.

“We should go big, really big, on vaccines. But when I talk with people in Congress, I tell them that a big plan is ideal but if we can’t do that then at least GET BARDA MORE MONEY!”

Rich, your reading comprehension is way off. Alex is said that the NY Times is trying to manufacture a scandal (the very first sentence!) and that the Trump administration is actually quite rational in their decision in this one case (the second sentence!). To say there's no skepticism is crazy. Get some fresh air because your derangement syndrome is on a little too thick today.

So AT (remember I made this claim about him & TC) disagrees at least in part with the NYT - +1. Maybe this will be the start of true enlightenment. Given their reliance on the NYT and WaPo for their posts, that’s pretty minor.

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How would proper skepticism of this story have manifested? Has lung research really been getting more money and the NYT is lying about it getting less?

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What if a useful vaccine isn't developed for many years - or ever? Don't we need both a vaccine (if possible) *and* treatments? After spending countless trillions merely to postpone the cases, why the either-or?

Are you serious with this comment? I mean why do we try to allocate scarce resources, why don't we just fund everything?

That's what the GOP is doing for all their for profit interests, mostly involving arms. Notice how spending started ramping up the day Trump was elected. In 2001, Bush-Cheney and Greenspan argued the deficit was too small so spending increased immediately, before 911. Afterward, they had a mandate to spend more and increase deficits.

Spending on investments related to health is something they reject because health related problems are never a threat, unless they are weapons like anthrax. But anthrax vaccines must be for profit with a single company getting an exclusive contract to produce the anthrax vaccine developed by the US Army in the 70s and produced in a Michigan state owned factory run by the Michigan dept of public health.

As an incentive to get a private company to do what government did, the private company needed to be given a monopoly, plus a government contract ensuring high profits, because only by paying high profits and high prices can costs be cut, and that's why government spending needed to increase to defend America.

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Exactly right Paul. I searched this page for the word trillions, and yours is the only use. I actually find that pretty amazing.

The government is spending trillions on this crisis, and for some strange legacy libertarian knee jerk reason Alex thinks that a couple billion needs to be diverted?

WTF man.

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For what it's worth, I think the only rational argument for the administration redirecting funds is that it does kick Congress into action, and by the end of the week they are funding both the above.

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It's a democrat hoax virus. All this is wasted money get real.

It's a funeral industry scam to get paid to bury empty coffins. Let's roll with this. There's a reason they were keeping people from attending funerals, and it wasn't the health risk. The CARES act included hush money for the supposedly COVID dead and authorization to arrange for new identities to hide them from their friends and loved ones. DeBlasio and the libs in NYC were actually digging up bodies on Hart Island to sell them to the [insert loathed national group here] for traditional medical use. The New York Times used machine learning to fake that 100,000 memorial page. Sheesh, I really shouldn't have to do this myself.

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wait wait wait I can't keep up here.

An agency turns on a dime, disrupts existing research, re-channels billions of dollars literally overnight, and re-purposes critical research based on a political fad that is vastly over-promised, leaving a large numbers of reesearchers and projects for important resources in the cold.

ok. maybe that's fine.

but what does this tell us about the regulatory state? is it failing again? winning this time? do the political appointees wield more power than we thought, or are the career bureaucrats finally getting one right, sort of a blind pig scenario perhaps?

Oh, I see, this is Congress's fault for not giving the agency enough money. More money is the solution. Bigger budgets are required. Got it.

Vaccines are a political fad? Spending money where it can most cost-effectively fight a problem is a failure?

Is the country running out of psychiatric meds?

Let's presume for the moment, a bad assumption, that in this crisis the budget is actually fixed.

Alex says we need something .. let's call it less than 10 billion dollars .. to be transferred for vaccine development.

Okay, fine.

Where can we pull 10 billion dollars with the least opportunity cost?

It does not strike me that medical treatments in a pandemic is that least cost source!

If the vaccine comes online the lung research is redundant.

The economy returns to normal quickly with a vaccine. That is worth trillions. The sooner the better.

The vaccine will cost pennies when it is created. The lung treatment will remain expensive even if the research is effective.

A vaccine helps billions of people, the lung treatment helps a very small subset of people who get a more serious form of the disease.

It shoudn't even be a close call. The net present value of a vaccine is trillions of dollars. The lung treatment is a rounding error of those retruns.

The opportunity for political spin should not stop sane policies.

Come on. The first word of this an argument is "if" and everything in it hangs on that if.

You did not even address "if not."

In a pandemic, when we were talking about trivial fractions of the total federal budget, and there is an "if," you fund both paths.

Or as I say, you find 10 billion that does not actually have human lives hanging on it.

Are the libertarians now going to argue that every other 10 billion dollars in the federal budget is a vital to save human lives and cannot be cut?

If can be used with the lung research

So why are you supporting it?

I have no idea what you think I'm saying, if that is your question.

I am saying that if the principal paths for pandemic response are 5 or 10 billion dollars each, it doesn't seem rational that there could be a binary choice. Fund both, or three, or five paths.

Especially given this reality:

The U.S. has thrown more than $6 trillion at the coronavirus crisis.

It's like it was set up as such, and people who were not critical of thinkers just fell into the trap.

Again, WTF.

Fund ten vaccine paths if you want. The potential returns are in the trillions.

If you want to cut tell me where. Spending to eliminate a disease seems smarter than treating the disease.

My argument has been that "shifting," or "cutting," $2.2B out of a $6T is a bullshit distraction.

Done.

You need to get the money from somewhere, even trivial amounts like $2.2 B

Didn't you already punt on the opportunity cost argument?

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That's a horribly deceptive headline

The government has thrown very little comparatively at covid crisis.

But it has thrown trillions at the banking crisis.

Is it deceptive, or does it actually raise useful questions about how we allocate funds?

Dan is busy telling us that vaccine funds must come from lung treatment funds.

As I say, WTF man.

Ok, I will type slowly. Where will you get the funds from? Alex said we are underfunding vaccine research and should be allocating more money. Cutting the funding for research into lung treatments caused by COVID should be secondary to preventing COVID. Sure we should be getting even more money from other sources. Name them.

Stop building the border wall. There, I found $10 billion. You're welcome.

Now you can go back to telling yourself we are going to hit that asteroid with a laser next month.

Ok, this is all some twisted political argument that folks at the asylum are having this morning.

Thanks for the clarification

psst, this is about the allocation of federal budget dollars. that's about politics.

don't let the door hit you in the ass

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This is too stupid for me to pursue.

You don't want to look at the trillions of new debt, you want to pretend money must come from somewhere else in the trillions of new debt, and then you want me to name where.

"Treasury plans to borrow $3 trillion from April through June as enormous coronavirus costs pile up"

Oh no, borrowing $3,002,200,000,000 instead of $3,000,000,000,000 would be too much!

Bravo! Not everyone commenting here can do that kind of hairy arithmetic.

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It's deceptive. The headline implies that money is spent on coronavirus. That simply isn't true.

The money is spent propping up speculative banks and enriching cronies. Coronavirus is merely an excuse for some disaster capitalism thievery. This would be/was happening anyway.

Sure you and I can read between the lines and talk about how much money is sloshing around and how it is spent. But the headline is a lie.

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Given a choice between getting treated for a nasty disease sometime in the next five years and getting a vaccination and going back to work, I'd prefer the latter option. Pretty sure I'm not the only one.

what you prefer, versus what is safe, fast, and effective may not be the same thing

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And I want a pony.

We have to hedge our bets. A bet on a new speed record for developing a vaccine for a novel disease is far from a sure thing. If you read the medical literature, there's still a chance that a vaccine may be impossible or provide only limited coverage. Look at AIDS or dengue. There's also the problem of getting enough people to get vaccinated for it to produce herd immunity. You and I might want a vaccine, but the people who don't want to wear face masks don't.

In game theory, pure strategies might work in a perfect information game, but this isn't a perfect information game. I'm sure you've noticed.

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The idea of developing a vaccine that is both safe and effective and available by fall or even next spring is an extremely long shot. Worth pursuing, but certainly not putting all our hopes on.

The promotion of this path - to the exclusion of treatments and strategies like social distancing - is a highly political maneuver that feeds partisan narratives, as well as satisfying the techno-utopian magical thinkers who picture a world where a master stroke of technology wipes out our problems, while making a few companies rich and famous, and no one suffers side effects.

Ok there is a shortage of psych meds

Social distancing can't be enforced by the government. Look at the recent political demonstrations.

Vaccines work. Investing so we get them sooner is a solid investment.

piss off bub

vaccines work? that is a remarkably puerile oversimplification of the situation at hand.

Ok, you refuse psych meds and vaccines. Anything else?

That's kinda funny coming from someone who is obviously experiencing a full manic crisis.

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Funding research for a vaccine over funding for treatment is a devil's bargain. Just to state the obvious. I get it: if funding is limited, then the program that has the potential for the greatest benefit should have priority. My question: why is funding limited? Politics. Trump and the Republicans have made their position very clear: the pandemic is over and it's time to get back to work. Increasing funding for treatment as well as for a vaccine runs counter to Trump's and the Republicans' clearly stated position regarding the coronavirus. I just returned from Trump country, and down in Trump country, the pandemic is over. The evidence is everywhere, from the absence of masks to restaurants and bars and shops filled to capacity to private parties with no effort at distancing. Indeed, those people look with disdain at folks like me who aren't in denial. If the pandemic is over, why fund a vaccine that's not needed while folks who already have the virus are dying for lack of proper treatment.

If you don't think the pandemic is over, why were you traveling (to "Trump country" no less)?

I had no choice in the matter. Family. It was my first venture out since mid-March. Now I'm in self-quarantine for two weeks.

"I had no choice in the matter"
Reads like a convenient post-hoc rationalization.
If I read you correctly, you accept the theory of asymptomatic carriers.
By your own lights then, you travelled to Trump country to potentially infect your own family.
Seems like a violation of your own stated beliefs.

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Not to mention: investments in treatments, in medical capacity, and in systems to deal with outbreaks (testing, tracing, effective sustainable quarantines) are fungible. They can generally be re-used regardless of what the virus ends up doing or which novel respiratory virus comes next.

Vaccines, not so much.

If we can manage to hit this asteroid with a new anti-asteroid weapon and divert it from destroying the earth, we've still only stopped one asteroid. It won't be the last.

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I've complimented Tabarrok and Cowen many times for their efforts in helping to find a vaccine. My comment above, and many of my comments about this, are intended to add context. This is not a political blog, which is a reason I read it. So sometimes I will provide the context. Even though it's not requested.

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Vaccines are the most cost-effective way to fight COVID. The political spin is absurd. If you think a pandemic is over why fund vaccines?

People can disagree on what they think the risk is versus the reward. People can march in political protests because they think the risk of infection is worth the political statement. Others can think that leading a "normal" life is worth the risks. We trade off risk versus reward all the time. You are shocked that there is not a universal standard?

I would use masks, wash frequently, and maintain distance. I think everyone should.

Tell me did you attack the gay community when they refused to take precautions against HIV and instead claimed that it was all a conspiracy to oppress gay people? Did you use the same type of venom against them?

> Vaccines are the most cost-effective way to fight COVID.

It's the most cost-effective *if it's possible to have a vaccine*.

I'd get experts to give us what they feel is the likelihood of no vaccine possible within the next 5 years and that becomes what you devote to treatment rather than vaccine.

What "if" the treatment doesn't work?

You invest in what gives you the greatest potential return. There are zero reasons to think the vaccine will not work.

> There are zero reasons to think the vaccine will not work.

Which is why we have an HIV vaccine? The case I am guarding against is not that we fail to achieve a possible vaccine, it's the scenario in which a vaccine is not physically possible with current technology.

Every article talking to experts indicates this as a significant possibility, which would suck greatly. However, pretending that the possibility doesn't exist seems foolish. You fund both in relation to the chance of success.

Now, what I haven't heard is what percentage the experts give to a vaccine not being possible. "Significant" is the term they use, which to my mind is 5%-30%. I'd love to have them put numbers to that based on historical record with other viruses.

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Some friends of mine are in the Seattle. They say the CHUD or whatever it is on Capital Hill looks like a masked hippy camp. I thought they were all gentrified out. Uncle Elizabeth's closed years ago,. At least they were wearing mask and keeping their distance. Now, if people would stop trying to kill them, we could avoid a remake of Joe. Look it up and think about God's mercy.

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There has been more than enough money spent on vaccines. What has been missing is the failure of imagination to do human safety trials in the absence of a pandemic. Many of the new vaccine platforms were developed for Zika virus several years ago but when the virus disappeared, trials were halted. They could have proceeded at a modest level to look at neutralizing antibody production (this is not rocket science) and safety of vaccine. Valuable information would have been generated that would have done more to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine development than the approaches Alex has been arguing for over the past several months.

While libertarians don't like centralized planning, zoonotic virus outbreaks that lead to pandemics require such a research approach. the US biomedical research system is ill-equipped to do this as I've noted in my newsletter.

Money helps, but if not wisely used ends up being a waste.

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Chucks, guys. I do not know much about economics and the like, but I wonder. Why can't America spend moneynas efficiently as Brazil whose government produced enough chloroquine to last many epidemics? I think the difference is at the top. Trump is a toddlerish leader who disregard values such as honor, integrity and duty while Brazil's leader, President Captain Bolsonaro, is a famous national hero.

Do you normally write for the onion?

No. Why?

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>Congress, however, has not allocated enough money to BARDA

Gee, I wonder who controls the chamber of Congress that spends money?

I suppose Alex is right; it's best not to mention any names or political parties.

It's why he never criticizes "Trump" -- it's always "The Executive Branch."

The Executive Branch has made amply clear it does not give two effs about the spending authorizations and limitations of Congress.

Perhaps you missed those news cycles.

Additionally, it is sitting on a $500 billion secret corporate slush fund right now. Just to name one pool of money it can tap to its heart's content.

In other words, the criticisms that this president is uniquely dangerous to the constitutional separation of powers are not serious.

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Let’s go small, very small on most of the rest of government from the Department of Education, to NASA to the US Navy.

Once done that, I am pretty sure we will be able to go big, very big, for vaccines or whatever is needed for the next real crisis.

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The NY Times and CNN do not care about the truth they care about political spin. How can they twist a story, any store, into political spin. The world we live in

they aren't doing much reporting on the increase in violent crime over the last couple of months

Or the big jump in crime in New York. Defund the police. End the anti-crime task force. Working so far

or that old joke deblasio hiring 1000 contact tracers but prohibiting
them from asking patients about their contacts!
somebody should jab a bigly cotton swab up his nose

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Alex, thanks for addressing the issue of how a government agency (BARDA) should be allocating authorized funds between the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Two points:

1 -- I don't know how the BARDA budget is allocated but there must be enough room to consider other alternatives that would allow increasing the funding for both prevention and treatment, starting with a significant reduction in overhead costs. Please don't rely on the issued as framed by the NYT article because we know their perverse motivation (please stop linking to NYT and WP's articles as if you had to fill a quota).

2 -- Rather than asking for additional funding from Congress, the Administration can reallocate funds from other programs and agencies to BARDA (in particular, under exceptional circumstances). I'm tired of reading about "additional funding from Congress" to solve a problem. The mendacity and hypocrisy of politicians --and their servants in mass and social media and fake intellectuals (in particular academic bureaucrats)-- should be enough to deny additional funding to the government. I sincerely regret that Tyler and you have not addressed directly this issue (your campaign "Our regulatory state has failed us" is grotesque once we assume such mendacity and hypocrisy).

One propaganda technique is to attack the messenger, rather than explore and dispute with your own facts, the message.

So, saying that you should not link to the NYT or WAPO
For a story is like
That Monkey
Who Sits on a Pole
Saying
With the hands over the eyes
And hand over the mouth
See and Hear No Evil.

You know a comment has problems when the author says" I don't know how the BARDA budget is allocated,,," and then says "Rather than asking for additional funding from Congress, the Administration can reallocate funds from other programs and agencies"

Two admissions EB made: I don't know the facts and I don't know how money is authorized or appropriated under the Constitution and existing law that would constrain his proposal.

there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the concept of re-allocating
funds. that is the job of the government.

Your response does not reflect an understanding of the US budget process nor does it reflect an understanding of whether an agency can reallocated authorized and appropriated funds.

Go out and look up what the authorization and appropriation process is.

did you read the nyt article?
the administration & barda just reallocated money from one use to another. this is what you claim they are not allowed to do.

I did read the article. And, Alex did say that more money should be allocated to BARDA. You did not make it clear that allocation was within BARDA. For example, BARDA is within HHS, but HHS cannot allocate more to BARDA because it has not been authorized or appropriated.

Next time you say "there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the concept of re-allocating funds. that is the job of the government."

You should specify that when you say "government" you mean BARDA.

And, corn, you should go up and look at EB's comment again: he was saying that the money could be reallocated from other agencies. No, it can't. And, your supporting comment referred to allocation within government, not within Barda. People can read.

a less dysfunctional congress could allocate/reallocate hhs money to barda or away from barda or even to cornpops

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Don't worry, Bill. I bet you that Alex understands Advanced Microeconomics, Constitutional and Administrative Law, and Public Choice.

You are not my judge. I know far more than you do as evidenced by your comment.

Anything you need to know about your qualifications and judgment is revealed in your comment.

Notice how EB attacked the person and did not respond to the comment with a substantive reply.

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Take the wall money and give it to BARDA. We should have both vaccine research and treatment research.

Steve

> Take the wall money and give it to BARDA.

Even when our borders were closed, we had a thousand people a day entering the country illegally. A really good wall is precisely what you want when you are trying to lock down. Our wall is OK, but it's not really good. Needs to be much, much better.

Islands did really well in this pandemic.

Germany, Greece, Norway, Denmark and a lot of other landlocked countries also did well.

"Even when our borders were closed"

When was that? Assume I lived in Texas for a while and still have close friends in the Southwest.

It is kind of a shame that with our video game generations and the general inactivity of so much of the population most people dont realize how easy it is to climb over a wall. Really hate wasteful big government spending, but I guess others dont mind it if it supports their tribal beliefs. At any rate not really seeing a lot of relevance here since virtually every place south of us has lower Covid rates then we do.

> Germany, Greece, Norway, Denmark and a lot of other landlocked countries also did well.

No, they did better than NYC and NJ. But they didn't do well. Taiwan has 0.3 deaths per million. Germany is 300X that.

Even Texas did better than Germany in spite of having porous borders.

> When was that?

Our border the north has been effectively closed by Canada. For a brief moment, the US border was closed to Europe and most of the world.

But when you have an infected person entering every day from the south, and that person then goes to live with 15 other people in a house, you cannot stop it by closing your borders.

> dont realize how easy it is to climb over a wall.

The wall need only cut the inflow by 95%. If a healthy 22 year old man that can climb a fence makes it over, then great, he'll make a great hire on a construction site and move the economy forward. But his 55 year old diabetic mom won't make it. She would have been a massive drain on the economy.

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we are from sweden & are here to help
-todays most pretentious&condescending newyorktimes.con headline ?
"to white people who want to be one of the good ones"
-newyorktimes.con dumbest line in a science article that is evidence
they don't understand the scientific method
"One study 'promised' that popular blood-pressure drugs were safe for people infected with the coronavirus."
-funniest npr headline that deflects/downplays rioters wrecking statues
"west virginia 'grapples" with monuments"

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My question is, does vaccine research need more money? It seems like everyone is trying very hard to find a vaccine. We have been having issues with supplies, but other than that it seems to me to be at full throttle. Do you have information suggesting otherwise?

If we can in some significant way speed up the vaccine, I agree with you. If not, then we should put our money towards other causes.

Isn't this an appropriate function for the private sector? Don't they do all the real R&D, because after all that's what they are genius at. And thus they get to reap the rewards in patents and profits.

Oh wait, I forgot... there's no Libertarians in a pandemic.

or ever apparently.

You’re even crazier than usual today. You also don’t seem to understand libertarianism.

But hey, you attacked the outgroup with a strawman, so you got that going for you.

"I don't seem to understand Libertarianism."

On this we are in total agreement.

Then again, Libertarians don't seem to understand Libertarianism either.

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How is it not a scandal that we haven't spent billions on mask manufacture? That would enable people to assess risks and wear (or not) masks in their self-interest rather than asking them to altruistically wear partly effective masks primarily to help others.

Where are the pretty graphics showing the ramp up and availability of masks?

The private market is starting to respond to the mask shortage. It occurred. with a delay but responded as quickly as the government. There are profits in mask production. The positive externality in vaccine production means that benefits from a vaccine are much greater than the potential profits to private firms. Society has a huge incentive to create vaccines as quickly as possible and to use public dollars to make it possible.

If there were a large prize and/or guaranteed purchases, the private market would respond faster. Effective masks also have a huge positive externality since they would permit society to return pretty much to normal. The benefit to society would be in the trillions and, unlike vaccines, we understand how to make masks.

Masks are a poor substitute for a vaccine. Public money spent on masks is money diverted from vaccine research. We know how to make vaccines.

Maybe they're a poor substitute, but they're the best substitute. Instead of spending trillions of dollars of public money supporting people who have to stay home, we could use a very small percentage of that to provide effective masks and letting them work.

And we barely (if at all) know how to make vaccines for specific viruses.

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Masks are a good substitute right now, obviously. Vaccines won't be available to you and me for another 6 months in the best case.
Masks are saving lives right now. The Covid-19 vaccine has saved zero to date.
As far as we know how to make vaccines , it's not that simple.
We still don't know how to make an HIV vaccine. The malaria vaccine doesn't have much efficacy. The dengue vaccine can actually give you dengue fever. For respiratory viruses, Influenza viruses have mild efficacy for the over 65. There is no respiratory syntactic virus vaccine and RSV kills more than 14,000 a year including 500 children.
Not everyone will take the vaccine, Influenza also kills but some people ( not just the antivaxxers) won’t take it. They can’t be bothered or don’t care about their health or others.
There are ~ 100 Covid-19 in development around the world. We have to make sure there’s enough money to manufacture the most promising quickly and in parallel and Alex’ and friends proposals make sense. If quick manufacturing logistics and incentives are already taken care of, I am not sure it’s lack of money that’s slowing down the process. You still have to go through the accelerated trials , find volunteers, etc. At some point the return on the marginal invested dollar is small. I am not sure how close we are to this point
I don’t know what the value of this particular lung treatment is, but treatments are also important. Treatments saved the day for HIV. There are antiviral drugs like Remdesivir that have shown some efficacy against Covid-19 if administered early but they're in short supply. I hope there is enough money thrown at this problem too.
The Covid-19 vaccine may not be very effective in older people and these are the ones actually dying ! They can surely benefit from improved treatments
It should not be that you go to the doctor and he tells you , you have a brain tumor and prostate cancer, we can cure both but sorry you only have money for one, which one do you choose to cure?
If the lung treatment is useful enough , then keep it. We have trillion dollar stimulus packages, that also seem to have pet projects Pork earmarks included as usual . What is the cost benefit of these ? we should not have to make these “ Judgement of Solomon” choices for Covid-19.

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> or guaranteed purchases

This is the key. H1N1 purchase orders were all revoked by govs around the world, leaving vaccine makers with a billion doses that rotted.

That is the worst thing we could have done.

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Mitch, we all know by now that the Chinese government bought up huge stores of PPE before announcing the virus. Ignoring this fact is just going to make people suspicious of what you say.

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In product development, they have a saying that if designers had their way, the US would never have had a fighter airplane come off the assembly line (since they'd continue to revise the plans forever). covid-19 is specific and immediate. It makes zero sense to me to put all of our R&D eggs into the vaccine basket. A vaccine may never be possible, or if developed may not be safe, effective or long-lasting. Even if one is developed which is safe, effective, long-lasting, stable, and cheap, we will STILL NEED effective antiviral and anti-autoimmune medicines. Maybe I just don't get it, but putting all of our money on one facet of the problem seems unwise.

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So, the people who obsessed about ventilators and hospital beds are now obsessing about lung treatment? How many times does someone have to be wrong before we recognize their judgment as flawed?

Thank you. I'd put my faith in Anthony Fauci and Scott Gottlieb instead.

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Since it will most likely take more time
To develop a vaccine for the next virus,
Or even this one,
Why would you not fund research
For the treatment of all diseases
Which create a cytokene storm
Or inflammatory injury to the lungs
While you wait for the development of a new vaccine
Or before everyone is vaccinated.

Let's hear about whether there are worthwhile programs that will likely lead to treatment and then make the decision.

Your ignorance of economics knows no bounds.

You invest, yes even if you are the government, in what gives society the greatest returns. Vaccines are by far the most cost-effective way to fight COVID. They are worth trillions. Every dollar invested in something else is an investment in something less effective.

Instead, invest trillions in other treatments that might or might not work. Why? Well just in case, who knows. We might need it.

Plus we can use political spin to cloud the issue which is our real goal.

DanC is back at the in personem attack. Claims he is a judge and knows the background and knowledge of another. Sad.

The spin is by DanC. He obfuscates with his comments and does not address issues. Not worth reading or responding to.

He does it to other people as well.

obfuscates. Bill, I thought that was your middle name.

I'm not a judge. However, you have some amazingly bad ideas. I don't know where they come from. But you seem sincere so I should be nicer.

Anonymous is a true liberal. Just spend and spend and then spend some more. Billions for everyone. I hate to think of his shoe closet.

You at least try to find solutions. They tend toward the Rube Goldberg end of things, which can be amusing at times. (Is that a personem attack?). I give you an A-plus for intellectual curiosity.

However your application of basic economics is, I will be kind and say novel. You no doubt could be a future President of CHAZ or CHOP.

The workshops of my misspent youth tended to be rough affairs with little tolerance for bad ideas. I suppose I shouldn't hold you to high standards. Just give you a trophy and move on.

DanC, Can't resist the name calling, can you. Maybe you think people can't read the original comment and need your interpretation of it with a flame attached. And, even though I noted above you claim to be a judge, you are not, and even though I said this, once again to be a judge. The way most people have civil discourse is to engage by presenting facts, and presenting arguments. Not name calling. Not claiming to be a judge. Unless you are Judge Judy.

What name-calling? I thought I was being nice. Can't win.

You can't recognize name calling,
now quoting from your comment:
"obfuscates. Bill, I thought that was your middle name."

Or, just maybe it is a memory problem.

You mean when you used that to describe me you were insulting me. Bill how could you.

When you obfuscate, I call it obfuscate and describe what the obfuscation is.

I don't call you Obfuscate Dan. Even though you do. If you can't respond to a claim that your statement obfuscates, I can't help you, but, it probably was that you couldn't respond and defend the statement.

It's easy to understand. For most people.

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Okay not quite done.

I will observe that at the crassest level, cutting lung treatments and transferring to vaccines is cutting money for "them" and spending money for "me."

It is unenlightened self-interest. Because obviously you could need the lung treatment before you get the vaccine.

One it is cutting research into unproven lung treatments. Not refusing lung treatment. It is spending money that gives the greatest good to the greatest number possible in a time of crisis.

Why is something so basic so hard for you to understand? Willful ignorance combined with political bias.

You got to be kidding me Dan.

I argue for a strict opportunity cost analysis, rooted in the total federal expenditure on the pandemic.

You are arguing that we can't do that because that's political?

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To be clear, you are now arguing that vaccines are the most important thing, but they are not important enough for a 1/1000 part increase in debt.

Wtf are you even talking about?

The executive branch can’t borrow funds, but it has some limited budget reallocation power.

Jeez dude, one emergency bill flies through congress after another, and you suddenly want to pretend the President of the United States, especial in this moment, and with this Congress, has zero power to tack on $2b.

Moron.

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I bet BARDA's money doesn't go to projects that equally benefit all 50 states like defense contracts or stimulus checks. Some states are better suited for this kind of research than others. It doesn't work electorally.

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> The fact that BARDA can’t get enough funding from Congress in a pandemic is a good example of why we need a Pandemic Trust Fund.

And how long until that "trust fund" is working on bullying and racism? Answer: It'll be the primary focus on day 1. That's how all this works anymore. Nobody wants to work on the hard stuff.

The CDC has spent $150B and 250,000 man hours since H1N1. There's plenty of money. New "trust funds" are not needed.

No no, don't worry. Congress directs funds, and then there is this whole "inspector general" system to make sure they aren't diverted.

.. no, wait.

The CDC has spent whatever they wanted on SJW in the last decade. The IG did nothing to stop it. That's why, in spite of having 10 years to prepare, our rank and file gov employees failed on covid. Inept beyond words. They had one job. They blew it. And not a single IG flagged it. They blew it too.

I know it's hard for this to register but let's try one more time.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response was created in 2006, and took responsibility for *managing* pandemics from the CDC shortly after.

In the post 2006 framework, the CDC is a scientific research organization providing input on what should be done to other groups, but not doing it.

For instance:

"The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) of the Department of Health and Human Services has managed the Strategic National Stockpile since October 1, 2018. Prior to that, the stockpile was managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)."

it really is a fool's argument to insist that the CDC should be responsible for things that have been specifically taken away from them!

I'm not talking about masks. I'm talking about tests.

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That was simply another “orange man bad” article.

Yawn.

Truly he's awesome, and leading his people into the promised land.

"MNSBC just interviewed a Trump Tulsa attendee who said (and I paraphrase), “yeah, a friend of mine died from the virus, and his son was on a ventilator, but on the other hand, you don’t know who to believe, even friends of mine who are worried aren’t wearing their masks.”"

“Boo outgroup”

You've really hit rock bottom. You're going to defend the anti-mask group because that way you avoid "outgroups?"

Moron.

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Brazil comes to the rescue! Many observers have pointed out that World Bank has done poorly lately. Brazil has decided to nominate a new representative. Mr. Weintraub, a leading Brazilian intellectual has officially been sent to Washington to help reform the beleaguered bureaucracy.

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Where was Alex in December 2014 when Obama was trying to get more money to fight future pandemics with drugs and vaccines, predicting a deadly airborne disease in 5, or 10 years?

Obama had full control of Congress and didn't fund it. Give me a break

Ever heard of sequester and the 5% cap?

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The CDC had other priorities - diversity and gun control.

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Nothing has made me lose more respect for the intellectual powers of the writers of the blog than how irrationally they persisted in wrong beliefs about Japan during this crisis, and now they continue to ignore that data point.

A vaccine might be nice, but it is not the transistor or trans-light travel. We don’t really need it.

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BARDA committing $354 to $812 million for domestic API manufacturing to a company that has more lobbyists than employees and zero record of producing APIs may be a sign that BARDA is not under-resourced: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/phlow-corporation-awarded-354-million-hhsasprbarda-contract-to-manufacture-essential-medicines-in-shortage-301061648.html

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There are only a few ways this makes sense.

1) You are 100% certain that a vaccine will be available in the very near future and all it needs is an extra $359M.

2) You want to maximize the damage done by the disease.

3) You want to steal the $359M or arrange for a crony to do so.

The first case is simple insanity. That's not how vaccines or medicine work. Even after you've rolled out the vaccine and given it to tens of millions, it could still have problems as with the polio and swine flu vaccines. An extra $359M isn't going to make a jot of difference.

I figure it is either case 2 or case 3.

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Instead of the "Mythical Man Month" why don't we talk about the "Mythical Man Dollar"?

The idea that increasing the amount of money spent on a highly technical project where there exists a limited amount of qualified technologists will always generate more returns.

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If Congress does not act fast enough, the President could divert money from immigration suppression to BARDA.

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We should go big, really big, on vaccines.

Alex, you should really read The Mythical Man-Month sometime.

Failing that, you should find a prominent place and write "Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later" in big friendly letters.

There was supposed to be a strikethrough on software there.

A big concern about dumping a lot of money onto a relatively small area of research is that everything will grind to a halt as people try to react to the new resources, bring in new people, start up new projects, etc.

So you end up with 5 long term projects on the basic science of vaccines, 3 new buildings, 100 new grad students ... and the guys who are supposed to be working on a vaccine for this crisis are spending all their time in planning meetings for the new labs and getting the new hires up to speed.

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