How About a Remote Variolation Study?

by Liron 1 min read3rd Apr 202024 comments

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Robin in Variolation May Cut Covid19 Deaths 3-30x:

Just as replacing accidental smallpox infections with deliberate low dose infections cut smallpox deaths by a factor of 10 to 30, a factor of 3-30 is plausible for Covid19 death rate cuts due to replacing accidental Covid19 infections with deliberate small dose infections.
[...] Systematic variolation experiments involving at most a few thousand volunteers seem sufficient to get evidence not only on death rates, but also on ideal infection doses and methods, and on the value of complementary drugs that slow viral replication (e.g., remdesivir). [...] A small early trial could generate much useful attention and discussion regarding this strategy

Zvi in Taking Initial Viral Load Seriously:

My prior at this point is that the difference between a low and high initial viral load of Covid-19 is large. [...] That difference is a really, really big deal. It’s a much bigger deal than getting enough ventilators. It’s potentially a bigger deal than having a medical system at all.
[...] The more I think about the Covid-19 situation, the more I think the highest leverage thing most people reading this can do is to find ways to get our hands on better data.

Right now we are all very keen to know the values of X and P in this statement:

"If you have an X% risk of infection with a large inoculum in the next month, you should deliberately infect yourself now with a small inoculum via protocol P"


The following are sufficient for many people to undertake variolation for themselves and their loved ones:

A. An easy variolation protocol

B. Proof that variolation works to reduce COVID hospitalization rate 3x+


What we're missing right now:

1. A few plausible ideas for variolation protocols

2. A study where 10k volunteers try the various protocols, then get tested for how large of an inoculum they got (data on the variolation protocols), then report their outcomes (data on variolation itself)


Does anyone have any ideas for #1?


For #2, a remote study on thousands of volunteer heroes self-variolating from within their current self-quarantines (isolated from all non-volunteers) seems like the fastest and cheapest way to get initial data.

This doesn't necessarily have to be a "Scientific" study. It can be a crowdsourced, crowdfunded movement. The data will be lower quality than scientific-study data, but higher quantity. We could plausibly get 100k volunteers' worth of data on variolation protocol design and variolation effectiveness.

How about a remote variolation study?

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