Bucky's Shortform

Derek Lowe writes:

My own wild guess is that perhaps the two-full-dose protocol raised too many antibodies to the adenovirus vector itself, and made the second dose less effective. This has always been a concern with the viral-vector idea.

It sounds like there was a medium-sized prior that the lower first dose would be better - why else would they have tested it?

Covid 11/12: The Winds of Winter

Look at what happened to the stock market on the day Pfizer announced its results

People are likely to miss the extent of the market reaction, due to a focus on market indexes which include both companies that benefit from the pandemic and those that are hurt by it.

The S&P 500 initially rose 4% in response to the vaccine news, but gave back most of those gains by the end of the day.

Here's a selection of interesting reactions (Monday's close versus Friday's close):

  • Zoom Video -17%
  • Alpha Pro Tech [makes PPE] -15%
  • Amazon -5%
  • Hawaiian Holdings [airline] +51%
  • AMC Entertainment [movie theaters] +51%
  • Norwegian Cruise Line +27%
  • Lyft +26%
  • Cedar Fair [amusement parks] +25%
A review of Where Is My Flying Car? by J. Storrs Hall

Nuclear costs are declining in China.

My impression is that China has copied some of the US regulatory framework, but still allows more discretion.

I used financial data from CGN Power Company to estimate nuclear electricity selling prices. Data for 2011 from this report shows RMB0.3695 ($0.0558) / KWh, declining to RMB0.30 ($0.0425) / KWh in 2020 (from this report).

That's not enough to have a big effect on the Chinese economy, but it's enough to show that something's working better in China than in the US.

A review of Where Is My Flying Car? by J. Storrs Hall

The author does overstate the harm from NNI. Drexler's vision needed larger-scale coordination than just a bunch of small academic labs that needed to focus on publishing papers. It needed something closer to the Apollo program. The details of NNI are just a small part of the political and cultural changes which made it harder to organize an Apollo program in 2000 than it was in 1960.

The author does have libertarian tendencies, but he implies that libertarianism is less important than the difference between a well-run government and a poorly run government. A fair amount of the book is devoted to analyzing why the US government became worse around 1970.

Covid Covid Covid Covid Covid 10/29: All We Ever Talk About

Another option is a trial where everyone gets a vaccine. Each patient is randomized to get one of multiple vaccines. That should provide better evidence about the relative desirability of each vaccine. I'm pretty sure that we ought to want to focus on which vaccines are best, not on whether vaccines meet some pre-defined standard of effectiveness.

Where do (did?) stable, cooperative institutions come from?

There are some important relevant insights in Henrich's book The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous. I'll say more after I finish reading the book.

Book review: Age Later

I give more weight than you do to the variety of species in which calorie restriction has shown benefits.

It does seem quite possible that calorie restriction does worse in high disease environments. But humans in the developed world are exposed to a good deal less infectious disease than what we're evolved for. That suggests that it might be healthy to weaken our immune system slightly (but there's almost certainly an age past which that ceases to be true).

Still, I'm not at all tempted to do continuous calorie restriction. I currently do one or two days per week of limiting myself to <1000 calories, and eat until I feel full on most other days. I completely stopped calorie restriction for about three weeks near the start of the pandemic, due to increased concerns about immune system risks.

The metformin studies are downplaying some possibly important selection effects. I don't see a need to hypothesize tricks beyond that.

Both the diabetic group and the non-diabetic group had some undiagnosed health problems. For some unknown fraction of diabetics, those health problems caused them to be excluded because doctors saw that their poor health called for a switch from metformin to a more drastic treatment. It's unclear how a study could produce comparable selection effects in non-diabetics.

Covid Covid Covid Covid Covid 10/29: All We Ever Talk About

Alex Tabarrok has some related discussion in How to Vaccinate and Continue Clinical Trials.

I'm unclear why blinding is critical. It should have almost no effect on safety evidence. It seems likely to have a moderate effect on the quality of the efficacy evidence. But the harm from delaying vaccines for a few weeks seems a good deal larger than the harm from not having ideal information about which vaccine is most effective.

Effective Epidemiology

My guess is that less than 5% of the value of schools depends on paper. I expect that the value of in-person school compared to remote comes from things like interaction with peers, or day care. See The Elephant in the Brain for more hints.

Stupid Questions October 2020

The term "life expectancy" usually refers to something that's not a prediction. It's constructed from the past year's results of many age groups. See

Load More