willbradshaw's Comments

April Coronavirus Open Thread

From the Center for Health Security's covid19 brief:

PANAMA IMPLEMENTS GENDER-SPECIFIC SOCIAL DISTANCING In an effort to further enforce nationwide social distancing measures, Panama recently announced that it is implementing gender-specific rules for when people can leave their homes. Women will be allowed to be outside on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and men will be allowed on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. On Sundays, everyone must remain indoors.

More info here. Maybe someone was listening to Scott's surname-based lockdown suggestion.

What should we do once infected with COVID-19?

I'd appreciate knowing why someone downvoted this.

LessWrong Coronavirus Agenda

Sorry, I think these comments came across as more aggressive than I was intending. I think there's mutual confusion/talking at cross-purposes here. I'm not sure it's worth digging into too much since I'm not sure there's actually any decision-relevant disagreement, so feel free to disregard the following (uh, even more than usual) if you don't fancy digging into this further. :-)

I'm not sure why you think I do.

From my perspective, my confusion arises from the following:

  1. You included basic coronavirus biology on something called a LessWrong coronavirus agenda, as an example of something you wanted to "nudg[e] LessWrong to pursue";
  2. You then gave a counterexample of something that both assumed too much background knowledge and left too much out, suggesting that you'd like whatever LessWrong pursued in that area to not have those deficiencies;
  3. This suggested to me that you'd like LessWrong coverage of basic coronavirus biology that simultaneously assumed less background knowledge and left less out than that counterexample;
  4. But I don't see how that would be possible without someone on LessWrong writing a complete from-first-principles molecular biology course.

Based on this conversation I think I'm probably misinterpreting what inclusion on the agenda implies you'd like to see LessWrongers do.

LessWrong Coronavirus Agenda

Okay, but those are textbook chapters. If you're looking for those I recommend Chapter 28 of Fields Virology, 6th edition (similar information to Fehr & Perlman, better presentation, somewhat more comprehensive).

But do you really think LessWrong should be going for something more comprehensive than that? I don't really see the value in that, as opposed to getting a smart-person's-summary that links to more comprehensive resources.

LessWrong Coronavirus Agenda

What is the basic science of coronavirus? E.g. this guide is trying, but requires more background knowledge than ideal and leaves a lot out.

It's very unclear to me how you can simultaneously overcome both "requires more background knowledge than ideal" and "leaves a lot out", at least without just giving someone a stack of textbooks to read.

I'm like ~2/3 of the way through writing a post on coronavirus structure, which might turn into a series of posts on coronavirus biology if I have time, and this is actually pretty hard. The amount of background knowledge required to really understand what's going on is huge; I have a biology PhD and I'm only skimming it.

So any post that attempts to attack this has a high chance of being at least two of incomprehensible, useless, very long, and dull. I'm doing my best to overcome this, but it's tricky.

March Coronavirus Open Thread

Last month, NIAID RML released an album of SEM and TEM images of SARS-CoV-2. This includes the multi-coloured image everybody is using but also a lot of other very striking images. Check it out!

Should we all be more hygenic in normal times?

In my post on hand washing David Mannheim did a quick estimate suggesting that the time costs of handwashing more often would roughly break even, based only on the expected work time saved from not getting colds. That's before factoring in effects of your cleanliness on the health of other people, the physical unpleasantness of being sick, or any diseases other than common colds. So my guess is that the cost-benefit analysis of having better hand hygiene is strongly positive even on a normal year; even more so when you take into account the small chance of stemming the next big epidemic.

For two of the other main things that generally get recommended for day-to-day hygiene, not touching your face and coughing/sneezing into your elbow, the cost is mostly in building the habit, so if the habit is already built as a result of this pandemic then the cost seems trivial.

March Coronavirus Open Thread

Thanks but I'm not asking for sources. I have lots of sources already.

When are the most important times to wash your hands?

I think this is probably a good idea. I don't think it conflicts with what I said, though.

I personally find sanitising the keyboard quite annoying if the computer is already on, so would probably restrict this to the start/end of the day and try to prevent contamination from hands the rest of the time.

It's not a big deal, especially if I'm using sanitizer anyway: just smear some on the keyboard from the hands before it all dries up.

This suggests to me that you're either using too much hand sanitiser or (post-keyboard-transfer) too little.

Possible worst outcomes of the coronavirus epidemic

Coronaviruses in general, including the original SARS-CoV, do indeed have proofreading enzymes, which is why their genomes are so unusually stable (and hence so unusually large) for RNA viruses.

I didn't dig down on the SARS-CoV-2 genome yet (I only started looking into this in depth yesterday) but a quick search suggests that the proofreading exonuclease is indeed there.

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