All of u8k's Comments + Replies

My jaw dropped at "~500 doses". At $2 per dose... that's significantly cheaper than it's costing the companies to produce the official vaccine. What am I missing here? I know you're making a different thing than Moderna, but if the thing your making exists and is this cheap then why is Pharma leaving the money on the floor and not mass producing this?

I think you're underselling the potential benefit here! Doing a batch of this and distributing it to 500 people may be unfeasible. I assume the FDA or something comes for you if you're trying to commercially d... (read more)

That's only for raw materials.  Actual production seems to have involved a fair amount of skilled labor per dose which probably dominates the $2 figure.  A commercial vaccine can automate that but then you've got lots of development costs as well as logistics and compliance to worry about.  I wouldn't expect that this vaccine is especially cheap.
As someone else said, the logistical difficulties for this are much larger than the standard jab method, the production process doesn't scale well, and once prepared it doesn't last long even if you freeze it. Making this for 20 friends and distributing it to them is very plausibly net-harmful, because you need to gather in close quarters to hand off the prepared vaccine, do it within a fairly short window (1-3 days) for all 20, and then repeat all that, including the production of new doses, at least once per week and ideally 2-3x per week. Given that the only evidence for efficacy is in silico, none in vitro let alone in vivo or in actual humans, it's not at all clear that the benefits outweigh the increased risk of spread from all that close contact.

why is Pharma leaving the money on the floor and not mass producing this?

Both the other comments here are on-point. The materials for large amounts of radvac would cost pennies per dose, because the cost-per-unit of the peptides drops very rapidly as you scale up (remember, we doubled our order for <10% extra cost).

However, in general, people and logistics are a bigger expense than materials for most products these days, and I certainly expect that to apply to vaccines.

If the thing your making exists and is this cheap then why is Pharma leaving the money on the floor and not mass producing this?

There are a number of costs that Moderna/Pfizer/Astrazenica incur that a homebrew vaccine does not. Of the top of my head:

1. Salaries for the (presumably highly educated) lab techs that put this stuff together. I don't know johnswentwort background, but presumably he wouldn't exactly be asking minimum wage if he was doing this commercially.

2. Costs of running large scale trials and going through all the paperwork to get FDA approv... (read more)

Oh, it's far, far worse (better?) than $2 per dose.  As a thought experiment, I price estimated buying enough peptide for a hundred thousand doses, and it only costs about ten thousand dollars.  Ten cents a dose is closer to realistic if you buy in bulk.

Which also brings to mind a question of civilizational inadequacy:  if we really cared and it really mattered, why not have every university with a lab in the country crank out a hundred thousand doses per week to their local populace?

I give Scott credit as being smart enough to know and have considered all of this. I think much of SCC could be categorized as him giving his opponents the benefit of the doubt of being well intentioned and arguing with them in good faith and not dismissing them as trolls. Maybe this is naive of him and a waste of time. But I think the approach has produced a ton of great posts over years and I think it's just fundamentally who Scott is and it's long been clear that earnest arguments in good faith with people who might in fact not be in good faith is what SCC is all about and is the hill Scott is willing to die on.

I think it's commendable.

nevermind, looks like gjm already did the thing

My apologies for interfering with your typing practice!

I agree with more or less everything people have said about the advantages of the text being actual text.

But also it's fun and nice to have it handwritten and I think the benefits are non trivial.

So. Both? Just have both versions so everyone can enjoy the version that's best for them?

I'll go ahead and transcribe this one. (i'm currently learning two different alternative methods of typing and I'm at a stage where transcription is better practice than normal writing, and doing this will give be a nice opportunity to reflect on the post). I'll have it done this weekend. Let me know where I should post the text.

nevermind, looks like gjm [] already did the thing
Upvoted for putting in the work to do the thing! (I basically agree that having the transcript would be good, but don't think Abram should be any particular obligation to do so – exploring whimsical formats seems fine to me and if other people find it valuable enough to write a transcript that sounds good too)