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Omicron Variant Post #2

A few things that were touched on, but I'd like to see further discussion on;

If Omicron is importantly less severe than Delta, does it continue to pose any sort of humanity-wide threat other than the obvious potential overreaction and politicians doing things to seem like they have a handle on the situation? Conditional on Omicron being more vaccine avoidant and less severe, is there any good reason not to simply continue reopening and work on better booster/Paxlovid distribution systems, instead of trying to use mask mandates/lockdowns?

Moreover, how much of the immune evasion could be due to just... erosion? We know that vaccines are getting less effective over time, and that's doubly true for non-mRNA vaccines like J&J/AZ. How much stock can we put in the hypothesis that people with boosters will get infected with Omicron at a ~similar rate to which people with two doses of the vaccine got infected with Delta?

Omicron Variant Post #1: We’re F***ed, It’s Never Over

Until new information comes out which clarifies the infectivity and severity of Omicron, especially against the vaccinated, I'm potentially more worried about outsized and concerning responses to the new variant than I am about Omicron itself. To be clear, this isn't diminishing the potential bad results of Omicron—but in terms of actual infectivity and severity, I don't expect it to be a lot worse than Delta. Vaccine resistance is more concerning, especially considering original antigenic sin.

That being said, my school (and California) has been requiring masking throughout the pandemic, and we closed schools for more than a year. I'm deeply concerned about the potential mental health effects of going back to virtual school, both on myself and people I care about. The current masking requirements for (even 80+ percent vaccinated) schools being more stringent than the masking requirements for basically anything else, including bars, is absolutely ridiculous to me. This is only going to get worse, as parents in my district will do absolutely anything to make sure their whims are satisfied. I'm fairly confident that if Omicron looks to be a general threat, regardless of its actual danger to students, they will close en masse.

I think your model is largely accurate, and the only one I would disagree with is the last—where I'd put the chances, considering vaccines. Paxlovid. and Fluvoxamine, as <10%. I'd add one final chance at ~40% that schools from kindergarten to colleges widely close for >3 months.

Done! This is a very cool opportunity.

On Raising Awareness

I'm a Davidson YS and have access to the general email list. Is there a somewhat standard intro to EA that I could modify and post there without seeming like I'm proselytizing? 

What would we do if alignment were futile?

There's no way world governments would coordinate around this, especially since it is a) a problem that most people barely understand and b) would completely cut off all human technological progress. No one would support this policy. Hell, even if ridiculously powerful aliens à la God came and told us that we weren't allowed to build AGI on the threat of eternal suffering, I'm not sure world governments would coordinate around this.

If alignment was impossible, we might just be doomed.  

What would we do if alignment were futile?

Our creator doesn't have a utility function in any meaningful sense of the term. Genes that adapt best for survival and reproduction propagate through the population, but it's competitive. Evolution doesn't have goals, and in fact from the standpoint of individual genes (where evolution works) it is entirely a zero-sum game. 

Covid 11/4: The After Times

Mask mandates for students are ridiculous. Vaccine mandates are significantly more complicated, but honestly, people that are putting others' lives in danger based on misinformation should not be allowed to keep their jobs so they can continue to do so.

Covid 11/4: The After Times

Any advice on convincing fully vaccinated family members that we need to stop worrying so much about COVID now? The response I keep getting even after showing them the numbers is that "but COVID keeps changing, there could always be a new variant spreading through the population that is significantly more severe/deadly/evading the vaccines." I'm not an epidemiologist, but that seems like a worry that (with full vaccination) is pretty much on par with "we could have a new pandemic, so we should all mask and constantly take precautions"—especially considering that from my understanding, influenza is much more likely to mutate and responds significantly less well to vaccination? At this point, for fully vaccinated, relatively young, healthy people in 75%+ vaxxed communities, are there meaningful risks from COVID more dangerous than base risks from influenza?

Covid 10/28: An Unexpected Victory

You're right. I think this is shocking me because it affects so many people I know and generally expect to be more calibrated in their beliefs, and the all-too-common handwaving of "we don't know enough about COVID" is not a free pass to be overcautious. That is, people I expect better from are overestimating the risk of the virus to a similar degree that anti-vaxxers are underestimating the risk of the virus/overestimating the risks of the vaccine, which is genuinely dangerous. Mixed messaging from the CDC and news establishments isn't helping either.

Covid 10/28: An Unexpected Victory

"I reminded her about the delta variant and how it’s caused so many children her age to end up in the ICU. I told her that she only has to wait a few more months until she’s eligible for the vaccine, and this isn’t the time to become complacent."

I genuinely do not understand how it's possible to so fundamentally not comprehend risk. To be clear, from the best of our calculations, the probability of COVID hospitalizations in eleven-year-olds is substantially less than the probability of flu hospitalization. In fact, even contingent on an eleven-year-old getting the virus from one hangout with another eleven-year-old, the probability of them being hospitalized is 0.1-2%, and the probability of death is a rounding error to zero. 

Parents who are destroying their kids' lives for years and causing permanent mental health damages because of significant overreactions to COVID are not being "cautious," they're being destructive and borderline abusive (in fact, I'd say that this specific situation teeters on child abuse. Quarantining a child in their bedroom for two weeks? To avoid what, spreading it to.... fully vaccinated parents with no pre-existing conditions? Jesus.)

I might be preaching to the choir here; I'm just sick and tired of the complete lack of basic risk calculations being made. No, kids should not mask in schools indefinitely, and in fact having more oppressive restrictions on kids than adults is absolutely ridiculous. I really hope we can finally get legislators to come to their senses about this, because right now this situation is patently ridiculous.

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