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What is the impact of varying infectious dose of COVID-19?

by Elizabeth1 min read5th Apr 202016 comments



Zvi Mowshowitz and Robin Hanson have both made pretty provocative proposals around deliberate variolation/low dose exposure to COVID-19, with the goal of reducing total morbidity/mortality and increasing freedom/productivity. Interestingly, the same rough data has led to opposite recommendations:

  • Hanson believes we should inoculate the young and healthy with the goal of developing enough immune individuals that R0 falls below 1.
  • Zvi believes that if low viral load is really so much safer, we should inoculate the least healthy first, to ensure they get the lowest initial dose possible.

Meanwhile in the April Coronavirus Open Thread, Matthew Lewis suggests inoculating via the GI tract, which may lead to weaker symptoms than the same load in the respiratory system.

The wisdom of both of these proposals is really sensitive to exactly how much benefit stems from how much lower the initial dose (or the placement of the initial dose), and the corresponding risks. With that in mind: what do we already know about the impact of varying infectious doses ? What could we learn that would narrow the confidence intervals? How could we learn more?

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