Operation Warp Speed Needs to Go to Warp 10

Operation Warp Speed is following the right plan by paying for vaccine capacity to be built even before clinical trials are completed. OWS, however, should be bigger and should have more diverse vaccine candidates. OWS has spent well under $5 billion. At current rates, the US economy is losing about $40 billion a week. Thus, if $20 billion could advance a vaccine by just one week that would be a good deal. As I said in the LA Times, “It might seem expensive to invest in capacity for a vaccine that is never approved, but it’s even more expensive to delay a vaccine that could end the pandemic.”

I am also concerned that OWS is narrowing down the list of candidates too early:

NYTimes: Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and the Oxford-AstraZeneca group have already received a total of $2.2 billion in federal funding to support their vaccine programs. Their selection as finalists, along with Merck and Pfizer, will give all five companies access to additional government money, help in running clinical trials and financial and logistical support for a manufacturing base that is being built even before it is clear which if any of the vaccines in development will work.

These are all good programs and one of them will probably be successful but we also want to support some long-shots because a small probability of a very big gain is still a big gain.

The five candidates also all use new technologies and are less diverse than I would prefer. There are a lot of different vaccine platforms, Live-Attenuated, Deactivated, Protein Subunit, Viral Vector, DNA and mRNA among others. The Accelerating Health Technologies team that I am a part of collected data on over 100 vaccine candidates and their characteristics. We then created a model to compute an optimal portfolio. We estimated that it’s necessary to have 15-20 candidates in the portfolio to get to a 80-90% chance of at least one success and that you want diverse candidates because the second candidate from the same platform probably fails if the first candidate from that platform fails. Moderna and Pfrizer are both mRNA vaccines–a platform that has never been used before–while AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson and Merck are using somewhat different viral vector platforms (Adenovirus for AstraZeneca and J & J and measles for Merck) which is also a relatively novel approach. I think it would be better if there were some tried and true platforms such as a Deactivated or Protein Subunit vaccine in the mix. As Larry Summers said, “if you will die of starvation if you don’t get a pizza in two hours, order 5 pizzas”. I would change that to order 10 pizzas and order from different companies!

One way to diversify the portfolio is to make deals with other countries to avoid the prisoner’s dilemma of vaccine portfolios. The prisoner’s dilemma is that each country has an incentive to invest in the vaccine most likely to succeed but if every country does this the world has put all its eggs in one basket. To avoid that, you need some global coordination. One country invests in Vaccine A, the other invests in Vaccine B and they agree to share capacity regardless of which vaccine works.

So my critique is that OWS is good policy but it would be even better if more vaccine candidates and more diverse vaccine candidates were part of the program. In contrast, the critiques being offered in Congress are ridiculous and dangerous.

Democrats in Congress are already seeking details about the contracts with the companies, many of which are still wrapped in secrecy. They are asking how much Americans will have to pay to be vaccinated and whether the firms, or American taxpayers, will retain the profits and intellectual property.

How much will Americans have to pay to be vaccinated??? A lot less than they are paying for not being vaccinated! The worry about profits is entirely backwards. The problem is that the profits of vaccine manufacturers are far too small to give them the correct social incentives not that the profits are too large. The stupidity of this is aggravating.

Skepticism about Trump administration policies is understandable but I am concerned that one of the best things the Trump administration is doing to combat the virus will be impeded and undermined by politics.


the firms, or American taxpayers, will retain the profits and intellectual property.

Yes, that's what it's all about. That's why ethnic Chinese researchers have been hounded out of the country, because some of the pharmaceutical profits from vaccine development might escape the ledgers of US companies. Better to have no vaccine than have to share the proceeds with another "country".

It's funny how those concerns are listed as "ridiculous and dangerous" but they are legitimate questions to ask. Does any prudent household skip the question of cost? Or worse dismiss it as dangerous speech?

Cost and fear which hamstrings economic activity are legitimate concerns. When the dust settles and the fatal mistakes made by Northeast governors and the over attribution of deaths to the Kung Flu reveal it to have been equivalent to a severe flu season, how vital will a vaccine be? A vaccine that may never be developed and waste billions?

I expect cluelessness from the usual commenters, but I expect a little more dispassionate analysis from a professor of economics.

Have you already forgotten about Italy? The morgues overflowing in New York City? This is not a mild flu, this is not a question of how you attribute deaths, please stay informed with the real picture.

Both Italy and NYC are outliers for reasons that have already been stated numerous times.

"That's why ethnic Chinese researchers have been hounded out of the country"

Cite, please.

to confirm:

1. you are arguing for strong federal coordination, both domestically and internationally. (perhaps forming some sort of governing body, like an agency or something.)

2. you are arguing for the spending of federal funds directly to private companies, with only an indirect public benefit based on estimated marginal economic activity.

I know!

In order to enhance international coordination and information sharing about disease, we should create some sort of NGO - like an organization that is devoted to world health

After everything that's happened in recent months, it's hard to treat "trust the WHO" as anything more than trolling. Particularly cruel trolling at that, in light of all of the loss of life.

Everybody who used their test for corona virus.

You mean the German test?

You mean the German test based on Chinese data?

I specifically mean the Landt test.

oh pfft stop the concern trolling.

If you read this blog with any regularity, you will know they spend a lot of time denigrating and whining about federal health agencies and the WHO, and then, without much apparent self-awareness, they'll spend yet more time whining about the need for coordinating federal and international authority.

I happen to agree that the agencies have fallen down, and I pin a great deal of that on Trump and on the long-term program by the GOP to weaken and co-op the agencies.

But this blog's seeming naive "there oughta be a law" posts are simply a perfect encapsulation of the central contradiction in much libertarian whining.

> long-term program by the GOP to weaken and co-op the agencies.

Yes, it is the GOP that has infiltrated the CDC and FDA and pushed them to ignore pandemics and focus instead on pronouns, bullying and vaping.

Admit it: The CDC failed at their #1 job. We got hit with a virus that was a 3 or 4 out of 10 of the danger scale (H1N1 being a 1) and the CDC utterly collapsed. Were it not for Trump getting the private sector involved, we'd still be waiting for the 1 millionth test to arrive: The CDC took over 4 months from first death to deliver 1M tests for H1N1.

If the CDC replicated their H1N1 test prowess for sars2, then we'd arrive at 1M tests on June 22, 2020. Just a few weeks away!

As of today, the US has completed 19M tests.

Thanks, Donald Trump and thanks private sector.

speaking of the private sector, perhaps you are unaware the Trump is the CEO of the CDC

Ahh yes, CEO's being involved in day-to-day running of low-level business units.

Grow up George, go to college, finish high school.

yeah, imagine how much we’d have to pay the CEOs if they actually mattered

PS “finish high school”... ?

lol. what, “doodie head” was unavailable?

tell you what, i’ll give you a mulligan.

> Trump is the CEO of the CDC

Not really. He doesn't have the ability to fire and hire the rank and file. And the rank and file were the ones that insisted "Don't worry, we got this."

If you cannot fire the person you want, then you aren't really a CEO. Elon Musk famously fires freshly hired engineers when they disappoint him. THAT is a CEO.

A president can only wait until they fail and then bypass them. Thankfully for us all, they failed immediately. And Trump bypassed them immediately.

Can you imagine if the CDC did NOT have the testing failure, and they hit 2M tests on June 22, 2020? They'd be bragging about how awesome they are ("Twice as fast as H1N1!!!!"), and we'd never have learned what clowns they are compared to the private sector.

> speaking of the private sector, perhaps you are unaware the Trump is the CEO of the CDC

Yes, and Obama was the CEO of the IRS where employees penalized organizations they didn't like. And then pleaded the 5th when anyone dared ask. So, you are saying Obama should have owned that failure and resigned?

Obama blah blah. It would be helpful if you cited an event that wasn't just another in a long line of debunked invented right wing temper tantrums.

But to your point, yes, if an agency fails, I expect the President to own it. Then make leadership and budget changes as necessary. And try and correct it going forward.

I understand that Trump supporters are unable to process that sort of concept.

Debunked? After testimony where the offenders pleaded the 5th and an IG report where wrongdoing was indeed found, the main people involved were asked to resign. But they did not (because nobody can be fired in the government). So they were placed on administrative leave until retirement. The IRS commissioner DID resigned when the IG confirmed the IRS used inappropriate criteria to identify political causes.

But not Obama. He used his famous "I learned about this just like everyone else--from the news" excuse that served him so well.

I don't think it is a problem for Congress to review the contracts, particularly if what you are describing is a market allocation agreement. The Antitrust Division and FTC should review the contracts. The problem you may have here is that under the hood there may be an antitrust "state action" immunity (or similar one if you are claiming that the act in question is the act of the state and the company is merely an agent). If you were reviewing the contracts, you would look for restrictions on the rights of the inventor to license to others, whether restrictions no more than necessary to achieve the result.

Also, don't forget, the President has the Defense Production Act, and could use it to compel drug manufacturers with capacity to also produce the vaccine, as well as compel the licensor to license other vaccine manufacturers to produce the vaccine.

If he uses the DPA enough times, someone will recognize that, wait a minute, this is extremely unconstitutional, and go to court and strike it. Relying on it is dumb.

At least ... isn't the DPA essentially, hey remember Youngstown? Forget it! It turns out you can do that! Whenever you want! With no limiting powers!

the dpa, like swat teams, can be handy for photo ops

Also, another legitimate reason to review these contracts is that there is likely government funding for research, and the issue would be licensing rights for the contributions, etc.

I am disappointed that Alex did not link to the source of his quote that Democrats are asking for.... The reader does not know if the excision or description is honest.

So, I would ask Alex to post below the link and source of his quote so that all may review the document

Yikes. Boomers trying to use the internet.


The NYT is the source of the passage. A passage that is so non-specific that it is impossible to judge whether one should be skeptical or not about the honesty of the passage.

Who am I kidding? It is the NYT, so of course there is no reason to trust it.

Thanks for the link. Of course, it's from the NYT (Alex only reads the NYT, and Bill wants everyone to read the NYT article), and therefore we can bet it's fake news with a lot of adjectives. This paragraph shows the mendacity and hypocrisy of Dems:

"President Trump has been eager to show rapid progress as the nation
slowly emerges from lockdown, and as he faces the growing challenge of winning re-election in the midst of national upheaval: more than 106,000 Americans dead from the virus, unemployment at record levels and now discord and violence in the streets."

Today's Jobs Report seems to show rapid progress on the economic front.

Personally, I think giving a President credit for a good economy is as silly as assigning him blame for a bad economy.

Then, again, on this I'm probably part of a very small number of like thinkers on this.

See post below on diversion propaganda strategy being employed by OK.

Differentiating between a President's effect and the effect(s) of the belief that a President has an effect is difficult (if not impossible). If you doubt the latter is significant, then I'd agree you're in the minority. People behave as if perception is reality.

Skeptical, EB, Yikes indeed,

Have you ever seen a young child put its hands over its ears when it heard something it didn't like.

I have.

Have you ever seen persons object to reading an article that was referred to in a post because they do not like the newspaper from which it came, and that others might read the full article.

I have.

Just tell them it came from Breitbart. That carries a lot of weight in those circles.

You could have just done a Google search to find the source of the quote, Boomer. Next time give it a try.

The link is in Alex's post. No need for the ageist remark.

So, here are the excerpts from the article that Skeptical, Yikes indeed, and EB may not want you to read:

"Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and the Oxford-AstraZeneca group have already received a total of $2.2 billion in federal funding to support their vaccine programs. Their selection as finalists, along with Merck and Pfizer, will give all five companies access to additional government money, help in running clinical trials and financial and logistical support for a manufacturing base that is being built even before it is clear which if any of the vaccines in development will work.

More funding is likely to be announced soon, officials said. This week, the Department of Health and Human Services added $628 million to a contract with Emergent BioSolutions, a Maryland firm, to expand development of vaccine manufacturing capacity.

Representative James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina and the chairman of the House’s select committee on the coronavirus, and Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, said that they were “seeking to determine whether these contracts include provisions to ensure affordability and prevent profiteering.”

Agreements have included promises from pharmaceutical companies related to intellectual property, the number of doses that will be produced if a candidate is successful and the price of a vaccine, one senior administration official said. But few details have been made public.

Contracts are being awarded through the department’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Congress allocated billions of dollars for vaccine development in various components of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package.

Dr. Slaoui also joined the project on a contract rather than as a government employee, leaving him exempt from federal disclosure rules that would require him to list his outside positions, stock holdings and other potential conflicts. The arrangement is not subject to the same conflict-of-interest laws and regulations that executive branch employees must follow."


Have a Nice Day!

Yes, it's a nice day. I didn't read this in the NYT

Biggest Job Gain in History, Unemployment Drops as Lockdowns Lift

One of the techniques employed by propagandists is to employe diversion.

If persons are interested in how you can speak to persons who employ these techniques, you should read: Art of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion by Pratkanis

Learn how to identify it and point it out to others when you see it.

+1 good point
one of last weeks newyorktimes.con propaganda techniques was
rebranding a violence as "mostly peaceful"

You can assert that but cannot prove it.

They had reporters there when you were not there.
Given that you were not there,
Who is more credible
You or the many reporters who were there.

By the way, yours is a propaganda technique called disinformation or poor quality or no quality support for assertion.

Post below all demonstrations you attended and what percentage of the time they were peaceful or violent.

You or a reporter who was there.

+1 nice death by bearacracy
after lunch why don't we both look up the casualty figures and see if they look mostly peaceful but meanwhile im pretty sure there was a headline in todays nyt that said "civil rights was never about nonviolence."

There are widespread reports across the US. That's not disinformation, it's well documented. To pretend it's not happening is nearly delusional.


Thank you for the Fox News link, but that was not the question, was it.

The question concerned was the qualifications of someone saying demonstrations were mostly peaceful.

+1 nice example of the "diversion" propaganda technique
-the question was about the reporting accuracy of calling a riot
a mostly peaceful protest when there are big fires burning in
the background of the video.
-bill changed the question to the "qualifications" of the reporter
its a bit of a scam

The Defense Dept. doesn't have any trouble negotiating a contract for the development of a new fighter jet. The real difference between a new jet and a Covid-19 vaccine is that when the airplane fails to perform as advertised there are dramatic explosions and fried air crews. If the vaccine doesn't get the job done it's simply back to the lab.

Good point. Exactly. For that reason you should have oversight. This type of contractual risk sharing is quite common.

Have to say, pointing out Skeptical seemed to miss the point completely about asking for details ibeing interpreted to mean that Breitbart (what a sickening idea) would be a better sourcing for such non-specific and vague information.

That passage is the Trump equivalent of some people say the Democrats want ........, and it is completely correct to ask about details.

"Here are some other reasons, and maybe the New York Times is lying to help drug companies and make Democrats look worse." Geez, Bill certainly seems to agree with Alex that the quoted passage is damaging.

Does Tabarrok believe that Trump won't play the vaccine nationalism card? Some Democrats have lifted the vaccine nationalism card from Trump's deck, knowing full well that Trump will play the card when the vaccine is developed. Tabarrok is correct on policy, but he is ignoring the politics, which Democrats do at their peril. As for transparency or secrecy, I can see the benefits of both, which means I don't know which is preferable. Secrecy now may accelerate the development of the vaccine, but in the long run may exacerbate vaccine nationalism. Anyway, Tabarrok and his colleagues are doing great work.

I am just wondering about the ease with which Alex is proposing spending. What would he say about spending another twenty billion on improving schools in poor neighborhoods, or health care? Surely these are national crises as well.

You want to waste money on something that hasn't been invented yet? Did you buy your "killer AI" insurance yet or future deed to Mars real estate?

Trump should issue an EO making HCQ available to anybody that asks. Deep six this plan.

We will get a two paqt protocol. 1) a partial vaccine that preps the body to crack the shell. Then as soon as the docs detect a covid invasion you will get a booster to crack the core of covid. We are not good enough, yet, to get this in one piece. We have the dark matter issue, which is real.

In my opinion OWS was nothing but another small act in President Trumps greatest show on earth. The public is becoming acclimated to covid and interest in this will wane quickly over the summer. We will most likely import the real vaccine from China no matter who is President sometime in 2021.

One of the impediments is that some (many? most?) countries will not cooperate with us on this because who would trust Trump to share the vaccine later?

After trying to buy a German company, and having the head of Sanofi saying that if the U.S. pays enough, it goes to the head of the vaccine supply line, you are right that no one trusts Trump's America to play fair.

Which explains the outrageous anti-free market law just passed by the German government, allowing the government to intervene into any foreign attempt to buy a German biotech company.

lol the US never does that sort of thing

Which likely explains why someone lost the Warp applications from Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, or Inovio and Novavax. Luckily for those less wedded to warping, Novavax recruited Japanese manufacturer AGC Biologics to churn out adjuvant for its coronavirus vaccine candidate. Almost as if the entire world is interested in a vaccine, and pulling as much weight as possible.

Oh boy!

A hastily-prepared, poorly-tested, regulation-exempt, blanket liability-waived, highly-politicized, heavily-subsidized, monopoly-profit vaccine.... rushed to market, via secret agreements without oversight, and imposed by mandate.

What could go wrong?

And, we probably don't know whether the government will assume the risk for a defective product.

For economists who keep saying incentives matter, no one seems to want to look at what incentives are in a contract and whether they incent the right things.


It worked for the atomic bomb...

"OMG, Democrats can't ask for details" is the wrong hill to die on.

It's noteworthy that no one even tries to defend the rationale actually stated, that "drug manufacturers must not be allowed to retain a profit from their investment." Poor anonymous had to find a totally different hill to defend.

I am afraid Tom, you just put yourself out on a limb. No one actually said that, did they?

In the quote of tax the Democrats just wanted to know what the deal was, and they never said they were going to deny all profits.

And while we are being super rational,

"They are asking how much Americans will have to pay to be vaccinated and whether the firms, or American taxpayers, will retain the profits and intellectual property."

I for one believe that all intellectual property created with public funds should be placed in the public domain.

I consider that a very moderate position, because I do not say anything about intellectual property created with private funds there.

there is absolutely a place for private research and private intellectual property.

But public money sure as hell should not create private wealth.

I wanted that to read "in the quoted text."

"But public money sure as hell should not create private wealth."

One of the definitions of crony capitalism.

"drug manufacturers must not be allowed to retain a profit from their investment."

And the taxpayers must be allowed to retain profit and ownership from their investment. Do you pay taxes? Do you want to get hosed again and again like the Wall Street bailouts or the latest bailout debacle?

But public money sure as hell should not create private wealth."

One of the definitions of crony capitalism.

I hope that includes private universities.

I'm not in charge, but if you are asking me, I'd say that federal funding of research, even at private universities, could follow two rules:

1) the "mild" version would just to write it in that "all else being equal, grant-making organizations should prefer efforts for the public domain." And then one way researchers would compete for grants would be with that declaration.

2) I'm not sure how we could get there legally, but a stricter version would say that anything more than 50% publicly funded "just is" public domain.

I'd love #2, but #1 would probably be the best I can get.

You don’t understand how the pharmaceutical industry works.

But who cares, you’re just signaling anyways

It amazes me that you would think that comment at all interesting or useful.

We should just make sure no inspector generals get involved, right Alex?

>"Skepticism about Trump administration policies is understandable..."

Really, now? One should be skeptical of a great idea for no other reason than it originated from the Trump administration? Why are you undermining this idea based solely on politics?

>"...but I am concerned that one of the best things the Trump administration is doing to combat the virus will be impeded and undermined by politics."

Alex is unreal. The above is from the SAME SENTENCE, people.

Why did the inspector generals have to go?

I'll remind you

Trump removes inspector general who was to oversee $2 trillion stimulus spending

Personally, I'd prefer a president who was not afraid of bookkeepers.

Is that standard procedure for IGs? Does each department have its own IG to oversee its spending ? I never heard they did before.

Is this person an accountant? A forensic specialist?


Are there people who live in a pure MR universe? Where the normal defaults of investigation just do not exist?


Here, I fixed it:

Based on the Trump administration's track record of making everything worse by politicizing everything, it's reasonable to be skeptical of his motives, and of his likely future performance.

So, it's unfortunately likely that Trump will undermine his own good ideas by politicizing them.

@International Pants Apparatus: It's basic Baysian reasoning. Start with the base rate (Trump lies 90% of the time so it's 90% likely he's lying this time) and then update based on new information (look at the particulars of this case and it seems possible he's not lying this time).

Given that the CDC screwed up the initial testing for Covid-19 because the leadership of CDC, the Trump Administration, and Congress was not interested in managing the 8A minority contracting program that awarded a sole source contract for producer of the initial diagnostic test, maybe every level of government should put more emphasis on managing the vaccine contractors.

Ignoring contractors never worker out in the long run. Any company that is trying to produce a Covid-19 vaccine while spending a minute of management's time trying to maximize profit will probably fail in a spectacular fashion.

Though just because the president says it does not make it policy, ala NIxon.

"Operation Warp Speed Needs to Go to Warp 10"

Does it? 60% of the work force is essential, 40% is working from home. Yeah there's some overlap so the leftover people are screwed, and maybe a deurbanizing is occuring which will be disruptive, but it seems like the harm is pretty concentrated and perhaps overstated. The leftover people are also being showered with money. And the economy was extremely strong prior to this crisis.

Maybe it's not as bad as we thought.


Where is the data or evidence, and the calculation based on them, that shows that a vaccine - which does not now exist, and may never exist - can be deployed in time to have significant value; that is, before most people have been infected and recovered. I can see this having great value in places like Taiwan, which have effectively contained the virus, but places like Taiwan are not most places. London and New York, on a reasonable estimate, have had perhaps 20% and 40% of their respective populations infected already, less than 5 months from initial exposure.

Reviews contracts >> calls portfolio managers

Maybe we would get better legislators with a hard blind trust requirement.

And Executives of course.

Spend the $20 billion on a mask factory, a melt-blown fabric factory, and a hand sanitizer factory. Then top off the National Stockpile. As a conservative I'd rather go for a sure thing than go too far off into the weeds.

So yesterday Cowen links to articles about statistician Karl Friston's finding that half or more of the population may not even be susceptible to the covid virus:

"'the 'effective susceptible population' was never 100%, and was at most 50% and probably more like only 20% of the population. He emphasises that the analysis is not yet complete, but 'I suspect, once this has been done, it will look like the effective non-susceptible portion of the population will be about 80%. I think that’s what’s going to happen.'"

And we already know that the risk of the virus will be less than the risk of a vaccination for healthy people under age 50.

And we know that it is not the virus itself that is costing the economy so much but rather the inept response to it by the nation's sadly incompetent governors.

And we know that the death rate attributable to the virus is artificially inflated due to deaths caused by inappropriate use of ventilators by a population of USA doctors who seem incapable of independent thought and just follow whatever algorithm is plopped in front of them, possibly due to spending more time in medical school studying climate change and social justice than the human body.

So why ramp up the race to waste billions on a vaccine that would never see the light of day in a free market economy?

Arnold Kling is, as usual, no doubt right when he predicts; "We will quietly give up on a vaccine."

The USA lacks human capital sufficient govern itself much less operate universities or think tanks. We would do well to invite someplace with smart people, say for example India, Japan, Nigeria or Australia, to perform institutional governance services under contract.

I like how you worked digs at climate change and social justice in there. Esp. social justice, because you can signal that you are anti-gender, anti-feminist, and anti-racial justice with one category.

And +1 for citing Nigeria for an example of places better-governed than the USA.

What are your thoughts in supporting companies that are developing therapeutics in addition to the vaccine developers?

While a vaccine by definition offer the best outcome, we don't know yet if companies will ever be able to successfully develop a safe one whereas a therapeutics could help prevent the spread of the virus.

Indeed, short of a moon shot Hollywood vaccine that Saves us All (tm), the best bet is to enhance our capacity to

- Detect infections
- Slow the spread
- Treat the sick

Along with supporting the economically affected and protecting caregivers.

And that then leaves merely needing to sort out what level of otherwise-preventable early deaths we are willing to accept. We can turn to the gun lobby and toxic chemical manufacturers for some guidance on how to nagivigate that.

The only way you’ll be able to pry my Clorox out of my hands is if I’m dead, especially after the past 3 months.

Does anyone remember Jon Corzine? FOB, governor, senator from NJ and managed to make between $4-8 billion disappear managing a hedge fund and got off scot free?


Once read an article about him and he supported that greenie nonsense. It was the first time I read bleach was a target.

I guess that goes the way of the reusable bag at this point in time.

(Clorox scrub singles are great. And available.)

Most of those cleaning products are heavily-scented.

So here we are, trying to protect ourselves from a respiratory virus, by bombarding our respiratory systems with oil-based chemical fragrances, which coat our nasal passages, and trigger inflammatory responses in many people.


Or as the Guinness guys would say: brilliant!

I’m breaking my silence to simply say that all aspiring trolls here should look to George for how it is properly done. He/She is kicking asses all over this blog.

Also PoetryBill is quickly becoming one my my favorite characters. Regular Bill sucks but PoetBill is A+.

You may now all return to your reality free cognitive dissonance.

Have a good summer.

After years of studying the fan boys of the right, I like to think I can do a passing imitation of a Newsmax reader.

It's gratifying to be recognized for the skillz.

Well it's refreshing to see a fan boy of the Left credit fan boys of the Right for their abilities.

So the Russians have decided to work on a blue light treatment that kills corona-1984 from inside the body?

This ought to be downweighted by the chance that the virus will just disappear on its own. The infection curves don't seem to be particularly drastically affected by lockdown, and how can we explain what happened in China? Do we really believe that a virus an R0 of 3-4 and hundreds of thousands of community cases was contained by quarantine, trace, and isolate?

Lots of money was spent on developing vaccines for SARS and then they couldn't even be tested because there weren't enough cases for trials. We should weigh in this risk before deciding that the cost-benefit justifies spending $50 billion or whatever.

"This ought to be downweighted by the chance that the virus will just disappear on its own."

This would seem to a low likelihood. Granted the virus may well become more of a flu+ like nuisance than a existential threat. However, even a flu+ illness that reoccurs annually will likely have productivity costs in the hundreds of billions. There's no sign that it's going to dwindle to nothing like SARs did. Covid19 isn't lethal enough to lower it's own long term R0 below 1.

Furthermore, Daily New cases were at a new peak as of yesterday as it spreads into the Southern hemisphere. Current daily new cases are greater than North America at it's peak. So, we are several months away from even a resemblance of normality.

So, spending $50 billion will be a productive investment in a pretty short time.

Flu recurs because it has many strains, so far it seems like coronavirus doesn't have this property, and SARS1 didn't either. You can say there's no evidence it will disappear, but really, there's no evidence either way. Maybe 80% of people are naturally resistant, so once 15% have antibodies we're at herd immunity. I don't know if that's true, but I don't know that its not.

But anyway, my argument is just that whatever you think the chance is, you should factor it into the cost/benefit, because it isn't zero.

"But anyway, my argument is just that whatever you think the chance is, you should factor it into the cost/benefit, because it isn't zero."

+1, yes I agree, it's certainly a non-zero probability

But even if the odds were 50% that it would fade away and 50% it would come back then $50 billion is still well worth it.

"We estimate that the real GDP growth rate will decline 5 percent for each month of partial economic shutdown. Therefore, the economic cost of the first two months spent fighting the pandemic will be $2.14 trillion (10 percent),"

The US economy is probably hemorrhaging well over $500 billion per month. So, $50 billion on a vaccine is cheap even if there's only a 10% chance it's useful.

Building the manufacturing capacity is a straight forward process where both money and clearing of approvals (zoning, building permissions, etc.) delays can be significant. In China they can build a major manufacturing facility in 3 months from greenfield to operational with thousands of employees and we built things that fast before the bureaucrats and regulators slowed the rates to the present snail's pace.

However, on a low-frequency disease (only about 0.0005 %/day become infected) obtaining statistically valid information showing an experimental vaccine actually provides real immunity takes huge sample sizes and a long time. With 10,000 people in a study, only a few people will be challenged per week in both the control and vaccinated arms of the trial. To obtain statistically valid data will require very large clinical trials and over 6 mo/phase (to get 100 infection challenges would take months to a year).

Using volunteers paid at lawyer rates of $500/hr combined with 10+ million dollar life/disability insurance policies for the high-risk job of obtaining a challenge dose of SARS-CoV-2 virus, we could have most of the data required to know whether the vaccine works (with real infection endpoints, not surrogate endpoints) with much lower sample size in much less time (30 days or so). The risk to the volunteers is real but so are the risks to the astronauts going up for the first time on a new rocket design.

Finding rare side effects with a vaccine would require follow-up observations when we have millions of vaccinations, which would require institutional competence the FDA and CDC apparently lack, but we could sub-contract that follow-up to someone like Google or Facebook.

With our FDA as usual approach, we won't have a proven vaccine for another year while a country like China uses human challenge doses as produces a working vaccine.

No let-the-market-allocate types in a foxhole, I guess.

The problem is that central authority is generally awful at selecting optimums. I'd take a different approach; more like the StageGate approach where each (well-defined, but generic) milestone accomplished qualifies the developers to receive $X, with X increasing as the specific vaccine progresses towards mass distribution. I suspect that Phase I, II, & III clinical trial initiation and completion would be a good starting point for defining milestones, but I'm not sure about that.

This is only a serious issue in the US where people have to pay for health care, and there are a lot of poorly paid people including essential workers who don't like to show up on government radar. When I got my Sabin vaccine, I was given my sugar cube at school. I didn't even have to bring in my three cents the way I did for my subsidized carton of milk. Yeah, I know, the socialism.

If we are going to get the benefit of a vaccine, it really helps if it is cheap and available and we have a way to make sure that anyone who wants it can get it. We don't want it to be like an epipen or insulin with pharma companies applying market reasoning to charge what the market will bear whether it is paid by individuals or the government. If this means price controls, controls on IP and whatever else, maybe we need some socialism again.

Is there any mechanism in Warp Speed to ensure that vaccines developed are not monopolized by the country of origin?

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