Covid 9/17: Done Biden His Time

No more mister nice guy. The dude will not a-Biden. All this vaccine hesitancy is a bunch of malarkey. If you’re not vaccinated, the President is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore. 

The question then becomes, what is he gonna do about it, under what authority, and what will happen when he does it? 

There’s also the question of booster shots. They clearly work. The CDC is doing what it can to prevent or stall any expansion of them anyway, and we’ll see if the FDA manages to finish that job. 

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Covid 9/9: Passing the Peak

Labor day muddies the data a bit, but it seems that Alex Tabarrok was correct and the current wave has peaked. We could well be facing another peak in December due to seasonality. We might also have issues from schools, although as you’ll see later they’re taking extreme precautions and also we didn’t see any sign of a school effect last year. 

The primary question now is how and if we return to normality. It’s no longer a question of when. We’re going to be dealing with a substantial amount of Covid for quite a while, and a large number of unvaccinated people for quite a while, and our lives are ending one minute at a time. Whatever we are going to do to return to normal life, we need to start doing it, and if we’re not doing it, accept that actually we are and whatever we are doing is now normal. Either reclaim your life and the things that bring you joy, or accept you’re not getting them back.

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Covid 9/2: Long Covid Analysis

I’m going back to New York City, baby! Tomorrow’s the big day.

Oh, yeah, the pandemic. That’s still a thing, and one still has to deal with the various ways people are dealing with it. Cases continue to rise slightly, likely due to increased testing, and we certainly aren’t seeing a big improvement on the horizon.

The big Covid development this week was about Long Covid, as we got multiple analysis posts on the subject and some extra data as well. My conclusions on magnitude have not changed much, and I continue to believe that Long Covid is a thing worth some effort to avoid, but it is not as severe or common a thing as some reports would suggest, and that it is not a big enough issue that one should make big changes in life to avoid it, when you compare it to the effects of long-term Covid prevention. This is one of those cases where you are encouraged to run your own analysis, draw your own conclusions, and then choose how best to apply them to your own life.

Executive Summary

Quiet week.

  1. Vaccines still work.
  2. Case counts did not peak yet, but positive test rates likely have peaked.
  3. Long Covid writeup from Scott Alexander.

Let’s run the numbers.

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Guide to Warwick, New York

On March 22, 2020, I moved my family forty miles northwest from New York City to Warwick, New York, into half of a house. On September 3, 2021, we will return to the city. During that time, we’ve spent the vast majority of days in this city, with only a handful of bus trips into Manhattan, the occasional day trip to the in-laws twenty minutes away, and a few vacations and other trips.

I’ve come to be rather fond of this town. I would categorize Warwick as ‘best of breed.’ It’s a nice place with nice people, it’s mostly walkable, and there’s a great playground, a post office, a CVS and a solid supermarket, with a variety of surprisingly good places to eat relative to the relevant baselines. There’s no train access, but you can take a bus directly to or from the city.

It seems worthwhile, before I go, to write down the specifics of what’s here and which things are good and how to best take advantage of them, in case it is helpful to others, and so I can look back upon it in the future. If that isn’t interesting to you, by all means skip this – this post is straightforwardly exactly what it says on the tin, and nothing more.

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Covid 8/26: Full Vaccine Approval

Great news, everyone. The Pfizer vaccine has been approved. Woo-hoo!

It will be marketed under the name Comirnaty. Doh! 

(Do we all come together to form one big comirnaty? Or should you be worried about the comirnaties of getting vaccinated, although you should really be orders of magnitude more worried about the comirnaties of not getting vaccinated? Did things comirnaty or was there a problem? Nobody knows. Particle man.

My understanding is that if a doctor were to prescribe the vaccine ‘off label,’ say to give to an 11 year old or to get someone an early booster shot, then they could potentially be sued for anything that went wrong, so in practice your doctor isn’t going to do this. c

A reasonable request was made that my posts contain Executive Summaries given their length. Let’s do it!

Executive Summary of Top News You Can Use

  1. Pfizer vaccine approved under the name Comirnaty. 
  2. Vaccines still work. If you have a choice, Moderna > Pfizer but both are fine. 
  3. Boosters are still a good idea if you want even better protection. 
  4. Cases approaching peak.

Also, assuming you’re vaccinated, Krispy Kreme is offering two free donuts per day from August 30 until September 5. 

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Covid 8/19: Cracking the Booster

The news about Covid-19 is now essentially on a few distinct tracks: Vaccine effectiveness and booster shots, vaccination mandates, mandates for NPIs and other Covid-19 related crippling of the living of life, and the actual path of the pandemic. One could argue for splitting those further, or for combining the mandates.

Vaccine effectiveness against the spread of Covid has come into question, with many claiming that immunity fades dramatically with time or that the vaccines were never that effective against Delta. I’ve looked into the claims and go into detail. There’s little question that the vaccinated can spread Covid, which is in contrast to previous attempts to sell the line that they couldn’t at all, and they spread Delta somewhat more than they spread Alpha, the numbers here are disappointing relative to my expectations, but the big claims of hugely waning immunity are almost certainly greatly exaggerated. 

Vaccines remain highly effective at stopping the spread of Covid-19, and of stopping symptomatic disease, and especially in preventing death. Still, boosters are more effective than not having boosters, and I think the cost-benefit for most people favors getting a third shot if one is made available to you. Boosters are coming soon, eight months after your second dose. However, until it is highly encouraged and likely eventually mandatory, it is still for the moment mostly forbidden. Get your shot exactly when we tell you to, they insist, not a minute before.  

There are continuing debates over mask mandates at various meta levels, which led to some sentences that were fun (and tricky) to write. There’s increasing mainstream and in-group pressure to force people to wear masks regardless of whether it does anything useful in context, and to shame those who disagree and blame them along with the unvaccinated for the entire pandemic.

Oh, and also the pandemic is still growing but at a decreasing rate, and case counts are a favorite to mostly stabilize within a few weeks, which is great news. The death rate lags, so it continues to climb rapidly for now.

Let’s run the numbers.

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Covid 8/12: The Worst Is Over

Good news, everyone! Andrew Cuomo has resigned, and Andrew Cuomo is the worst. 

I will damn well take it, because it’s not like he doesn’t also deserve to resign in disgrace for the stuff that officially got him, and again, also to say it for what is hopefully one last time, Andrew Cuomo Is The Worst. Hence, The Worst Is Over. Sing it high, sing it low. (HT: Meme source)

The title this week does not as reliably or fully refer to the Delta variant or the Covid-19 pandemic. Things are still steadily getting worse. But the turning point is plausibly in sight, as case growth slows, and I doubt we have more than one doubling left before things peak. 

Main event this week was continued arguments over mandates, both for vaccines and for masks and other NPIs. I’m making one last attempt this week to explain my reasoning on vaccination mandates, as I continue to get people disagreeing for a variety of reasons, and disambiguating the disagreements seems worthwhile; I tested it out in the comments last week and it seemed productive. 

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Covid 8/5: Much Ado About Nothing

Getting into the weeds on the CDC’s new guidance and scaremongering, and the study they cited as justifications, caused this week’s post to get rather long. That was necessary, but if you don’t need the details, by all means skip the sections in question in favor of this summary: The CDC’s failure to apply Bayes’ rule, correct for base rates or locate sufficiently large or remotely representative samples knows few if any bounds, and their conclusions are still mostly the same conclusions my model had reached weeks ago. Very little has changed. Our new model of Delta is almost entirely the same as our old model of Delta. 

The other big development is the continuing fights over the growing number of mask mandates and vaccine mandates, and the potential descent of our children into a potentially permanent ever present young adult dystopia.

Not Covid, but worth mentioning up top: The latest set of grant applications to the Survival and Flourishing Fund are due on August 23. If you have a long term future oriented organization, I’d urge you to consider applying, more details at the link or later in this post. 

In other news, there’s a good righteous FDA Delenda Est rant from Scott Alexander, if you’d like one. 

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Covid 7/29: You Play to Win the Game

Few things warm my heart more than playing to win the game. Few things sadden me more than observing someone not playing to win the game. 

Usually, that means they are playing a different game instead, whether they admit it or not, and whether or not they know it themselves. The game, from this perspective, is simply that which you are playing to win, and your revealed preferences define the game’s rules and objectives.

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Covid 7/22: Error Correction

Delta has taken over, and cases are rising rapidly, with a 58% rise this week after a 65% rise last week. There’s no reason to expect this to turn around in the near term. 

Three weeks ago, in One Last Scare, I ran the numbers and concluded that most places in America would ‘make it’ without a big scary surge from Delta. It’s time to look at what went wrong with that calculation, which I believe to be a failure to sufficiently integrate different parts of my model.  

Then there’s the question of what we are going to do about this, and whether we are going to destroy some combination of free speech and the ordinary day to day activities that constitute our lives and civilization, perhaps indefinitely, in the face of this situation. Such collateral damage has the potential to be far scarier and more deadly than the direct threat from Covid-19.

Let’s run the numbers.

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