Thank you so much for your great answers.
I have one follow-up question for you.
I really liked/enjoyed your logic on why you decided to make your own vaccine. You seem like a highly rational guy, and because of that, I find myself curious about your logic on the preceding decision--the decision that you would take a brand-new Covid-19 vaccine, and soon, from, say, Pfizer.
Most people are eager to get that vaccine, but most people are not rationalists. I'm curious about the logic an intelligent and skeptical rationalist used to decide he'd take a new Pfizer vaccine.
I'm curious about how you came to the conclusion that a new vaccine would be way better than general good health and treatment options. And I'm curious about how you came to the conclusion that a new, experimental, lightly tested, approved-only-under-emergency-authorization vaccine from a politically powerful, profit-seeking corporation poses fewer risks to you than a case of Covid-19.
Most people are enthusiastic about the new vaccines. But the enthusiasm in many cases is driven more by a year of wall-to-wall media coverage than by any logical consistency. Many of the millions rushing to get Covid-19 vaccines are not up to date on the CDC's adult vaccination schedule and do not get flu shots.
Most people don't even try to distinguish real experts from fake. When it comes to Covid-19, most people unquestioningly accept scientific pronouncements from...politicians and journalists. (And politicians and journalists, however noble their intentions, sometimes can't help but be influenced by the the pharmaceutical industry's massive lobbying efforts and massive advertising spend in the news media.)
You, on the other hand, do try to distinguish real experts from fake, and you say you are extremely unusually good at it. And as a rationalist you're probably much more likely than the average person to understand incentives, follow the money, consult primary scientific sources, and more accurately estimate risks and rewards.
And that's why I'm curious about your thought process. Even if your thought process was fairly quick, leveraging previous knowledge. I've seen plenty of emotional or political or conformist reasons for rushing out to get the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. But I'm interested in the rationalist reasons for doing it.
(Thanks for reading this reply. I know it's a little long, a little off topic, and tinged with a little cynicism. But I'd love to read any thoughts you care to share about how you made the overall yes/no vaccine decision that preceded your decision to make your own!)
How does the "vaccine design just isn't that hard" align with these points?
a) Average time to develop a vaccine for a new virus is many years
b) There is still no HIV vaccine after 35 years of well-funded research
c) Until a few months ago, there were no approved coronavirus vaccines for humans
I'm prepared to accept that "bureaucracy" is the main cause for the delays in standard big company vaccine development and approval.
But if it's easy to develop vaccines, why has there been no coronavirus vaccine previously? Why is there still no vaccine for SARS 1 or MERS or the common cold? Why was this Radvac idea or something similar not rolled out pre-Covid? (or was it? maybe nasal vaccines are easier?)
Anyway, I'm just stuck on the logical conflict between "it's easy to develop a coronavirus vaccine" and "we've never had one (approved) before." Any thoughts?
This seems like a cool and interesting experiment, and it seems rational from a "zoomed-in" perspective. i.e. "if I'm going to get vaccinated, I might as well do it myself, nasally, with fewer ingredients....the potential benefits are greater than the costs. Especially when considering adjacent benefits like learning, being a trailblazer, potentially advancing knowledge, etc."
But if you "zoom out" and take a broader view of the whole Covid phenomenon, it seems like you may be (irrationally?) accepting a number of big assumptions before beginning your cost-benefit analysis. It seems that you may be assuming some subset of the points below:
a) You face significant risks from Covid-19 even though you are not elderly and don't have comorbidities
b) A vaccine is an important part of reducing your risk of severe Covid-19 outcomes. (You don't think you can achieve sufficient risk reduction through preventative risk reducers like Vitamin D, sleep, exercise, stress reduction, etc., and you don't think you can achieve sufficient risk reduction through therapeutics like steroids, antivirals, antiparasiticals, etc.)
c) Vaccine experts are generally reliable sources of data and insight. (Or at least you can successfully navigate the challenge for distinguishing real experts from fake, and you are fully aware of the conflicts faced by researchers and public health experts due to their funding sources, political pressures, regulatory capture by industry, etc.)
d) The scientific (or bureaucratic?) challenges that prevented any previous coronavirus vaccines from being approved for humans were solved in the past 10 months, not by haste, but by scientific breakthroughs or by the realization that previous non-approval was in error.
e) To the extent that proof of vaccination or antibodies are required for things like travel, etc., your DIY vaccine and/or resulting antibodies will be accepted by authorities. You would not be required to get, say, the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines on TOP of your DIY vaccine. Or, if you were, doubling up on complementary vaccines would be neutral or positive, not negative.
Anyway, I'd be curious to hear any of your thoughts on these assumptions. I loved your post, and I love the DIY decision at a micro-level. If you want a vaccine, why NOT a quicker DIY nasal one instead of waiting. But I find myself wondering about what principles, assumptions, and decisions you embraced in advance of the DIY vs waiting for Pfizer decision. Thanks for any insight you can share!