Covid 4/21/22: Variants Working Overtime

Earlier this week, a judge overturned the transportation mask mandate, which I covered here. I will also be covering the situation in China in its own post.

No one asked this time around, but a friend recommends this P100 mask if you’re looking to go big rather than go home.

The biggest other news is that Omicron continues to cycle into new variants.

  1. There’s BA.2.1.12, there’s BA.4 and there’s BA.5.
  2. All seem to be more infectious than BA.2.
  3. Which was more infectious than BA.1.
  4. Which was much more infectious than Delta.
  5. Which was more infectious than Alpha.
  6. Which was more infectious than the original strain.

We’ve come a long way. China is still attempting Zero Covid, which I will cover in the China post, but that is looking more and more like state failure to adapt to reality than a reasonable policy choice. Covid-19 is here to stay, at least until we can get a nasal vaccine that prevents transmission, research towards which is not currently something we are even willing to properly fund.

Executive Summary

  1. Moderna booster candidate looks great.
  2. Cases and deaths radically down on paper due to Easter, mostly ignore.
  3. Things increasingly returning to normal, travel mask mandates lifting.
  4. China situation is scary, will be covering that in its own posts.
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Judge Overturns Transportation Mask Mandate

A federal judge has overturned the transportation mask mandate, saying the CDC overstepped its authority. The Biden administration is adhering to this ruling. It intends to appeal, but is not being loud about that.

Mask mandates are lifted on planes. This happened in-flight. Reactions from passengers and crew in flight were highly supportive.

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Covid 4/14/22: China Stays the Course

Will China abandon its zero Covid policy? For now it seems they are determined to stay the course and hope for the best. They continue to claim there have been zero Covid deaths. There are increasing signs the people are not happy about the situation, especially in Shanghai. At some point something has to give, but after one types similar sentences enough times perhaps things can be kept going for quite a while before that happens. Or it could happen on Tuesday.

Outside of China, the news has been extremely quiet on the Covid front other than the numbers themselves. Cases are up substantially, and deaths are up as well, neither of which fits my models of what should be happening here. I am unsure what to make of it all but I do not expect it to be fully sustained in the next week or two.

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Ukraine Post #10: Next Phase

This is another Covid-style Ukraine post in the ‘here are all the things that caught my attention since the last one of these posts’ tradition.

I have noticed that the rate at which I notice noteworthy new things while looking at my sources has declined steadily. The situation is becoming more static, and ambiguity over what is happening is steadily declining.

Thus, I expect to spend less time monitoring those sources. Doing these about once a week still might make sense, or it might not, we will have to see. I do want to start moving away from doing such an intense amount of taking in and reacting to current events, and find the time to also return to more long-term model building.

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China Covid Update #1

An increasingly large percentage of new developments are coming from China and in particular from Shanghai. It seems sensible to post them on their own rather than waiting for Thursday.

When they locked down Shanghai by halves, it meant they did not have the resources to lock down Shanghai. Then they locked down Shanghai anyway, file under ‘how to quite possibly lose the mandate of heaven if you keep this up.’

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Covid 4/7/22: Opening Day

Baseball is back, and only a week late. As a fan with an infant, even though my Mets are somehow already without our top two starting pitchers, I am thrilled. Things are not fully open without opening day. Aside from putting masks on for the subway, life is now fully back to the way it used to be.

Someone told me they had Covid this morning, and I treated it exactly the way I would have if they’d said they had a cold. I checked to see if I’d been exposed (I hadn’t), I wished them a speedy recovery, but I in no way worried about the situation. People get sick sometimes, things go around. It’s life.

Europe’s situation is somewhat less comfortable, but everyone has rightfully decided to get on with life regardless. I am impressed. This new wave there will start declining soon enough, as there are not enough people left to infect for it to do otherwise.

Here cases are picking up a bit in some areas as BA.2’s dominance sets in, but still at low levels. I do not expect any serious trouble.

China is another story.

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Ukraine Post #9: Again

This is once again a ‘sources and information on everything happening’ post. In the last few days after Russia’s retreat from the Kyiv area, focus has shifted from military and other issues to the atrocities discovered in Bucha. This covers both.

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Ukraine Post #8: Risk of Nuclear War

It seems worth going through the exercise of estimating the probability of nuclear war, and in particular the probability of it causing one’s death. If the probability gets high enough, one can strongly consider being elsewhere or otherwise doing something about it.

Note that all scoring rules and wagers are essentially useless here. You can look back and decide whether your reasoning was good, but saying ‘I was right’ is meaningless.

As a baseline to work from, this EA forum post presents multiple perspectives on nuclear war risk in terms of the danger of being in London, with the author of the post modeling risk as relatively high, versus some superforecaster predictions that modeled risk as relatively low. The forecasts are divided into steps.

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Covid 3/31/2022: More of the Same

BA.2 became the majority strain in the United States this week, as expected. Mostly things are continuing as expected, with unsurprising news on a variety of fronts. The biggest surprise is that the second booster shot was approved. Given I expect to be asked about that every so often, I split that off into its own post.

Executive Summary

  1. BA.2 now majority strain but for now it changes nothing.
  2. Ultraviolet light confirmed as effective.
  3. Lack of federal pandemic funding having real world impacts.
  4. Second booster approved for those 50+ or who are immunocompromised.
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They Don’t Know About Second Booster

The FDA went ahead and did it, approving a fourth vaccine shot for those age 50 or older. This is a reference post for those wondering if it makes sense to get that second booster.

The FDA approved the second booster by bypassing some of the normal procedures. Usual never-amused suspects are not amused.

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