I’ve been travelling to New York City once again, and it’s been a busy week, including putting in bids on multiple different apartments. Developments are ongoing, so I’ve been even busier than usual and it’s likely some stuff has slipped through the cracks.
The overall situation seems unchanged. As people take more risks and the new strains dominate, we’ve settled into about a 10% week over week growth in positive rates, but due to vaccinations death rates continue to decline. That means that one’s risk as an unvaccinated person continues to rise, even as risk on a population level goes down. With everyone eligible now or at least soon, I’d urge once again for everyone who isn’t yet vaccinated to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
Writer’s Note: This is being posted on April 1, which is April Fools Day. To avoid all ‘is this the fake out?’ issues, this post does not contain any April Fools material. The fools contained herein are the usual, regularly scheduled fools we talk about every week. The official April Fool this year is whoever accidentally ruined 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by mixing in the wrong ingredients.
This week started a big debate over vaccine passports. States including New York are deploying systems that let people prove they have been vaccinated, or document recent negative tests. Naturally, lots of people are outraged by this attempt to create a public record and provide information that helps people make better decisions. Thus, the long middle section where I go over all the objections I can come up with against this proposal. Some of them are legitimate.
Meanwhile, the overall arc remains the same. Things are getting worse again, and it’s a race to see how long it will take vaccinations to catch up to the problem and get us headed in the right direction again.
AstraZeneca has made quite the mess of things. First they screwed up their initial studies in ways that kind of boggle the mind. Then, with the studies designed to repair trust, fix the problem and allow approval, they report incomplete results in order to make themselves look better, even though inevitably they were caught doing this within a day – it’s pretty inevitable that you’ll be caught when you do something in public that someone already warned you not to do, especially when that someone is also the regulatory authority. Oops.
In addition to AZ’s own goals, health officials continue to score additional own goals around the whole issue of blood clots (that don’t exist, and wouldn’t matter even if they did). Most but not all places have resumed vaccinations, but trust in the vaccine, and plausibly in all vaccines, is permanently damaged.
This week’s Covid news was that most of Europe suspended administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine over reports of blood clots. This was ludicrously stupid several times over. There was always going to be something that happened to correlate with vaccination days to some extent, somewhere, over some time period. The number of blood clots experienced after vaccination wasn’t even higher than the base rate you would otherwise expect. And even if all the observed clots were extra, all were caused by the vaccine, all were fatal, and that represented the overall base rate, and we ignore all population-level benefits and economic issues, the vaccine would still be worth using purely for personal health and safety by multiple orders of magnitude.
The WHO and EMA said there was no evidence there was an issue.
None of that mattered, as one by one countries suspended injections as part of a blame avoidance strategy. As a result vaccinations are hold, thousands (or more) will die as a direct result, with many European countries seeing things getting worse rather than better and facing possible new restrictions, and with a permanent new weapon in the arsenal of vaccine skeptics that we’ll have to hear about for decades, long after this is proven to be a non-concern.
This past week, I had my first opportunity in a year to visit New York City, to get my vaccine shot, to look at potential apartments and also to finally visit the city. This is my report of the trip.
This post is a day late although not all that short, as I warned it might be. This is because I have spent the last week visiting the best place on Earth, my true home, which is New York City. I will return again soon, and soon after that I will once again be able to live there. A great moment. I hope to write about the trip, but I need to get this post out quickly, so that won’t make it in this week.
Health officials look on in horror as individuals both vaccinated and unvaccinated, and state and local governments, realize life exists and people can choose to live it.
This is exactly what I was worried about back in December when I wrote We’re F***ed, It’s Over. The control system would react to the good news in time to set us up to get slammed by the new strains, and a lot of damage can get done before there is a readjustment. The baseline scenario from two months ago is playing out.
Scott Alexander reviewed his Covid-19 predictions, and I did my analysis as well.
It was a quiet week, with no big news on the Covid front. There was new vaccine data, same as the old vaccine data – once again, vaccines still work. Once again, there is no rush to approve them or even plan for their distribution once approved. Once again, case numbers and positive test percentages declined, but with the worry that the English Strain will soon reverse this, especially as the extent of the drop was disappointing. The death numbers ended up barely budging after creeping back up later in the week, presumably due to reporting time shifts, but that doesn’t make it good or non-worrisome news.
This will be a relatively short update, and if you want to, you can safely skip it.
Scott Alexander has given his verdict on our predictions for Covid from April 2020.
This seems like an excellent opportunity to reflect on those predictions. I’ll also attempt to render my verdict on the predictions, based on the principles I discuss in Evaluating Predictions in Hindsight under Hard Mode, as Scott’s already done the Easy Mode work.
Afterwards, I’ll give my take on the Assorted Links from that post as well.