17 March 2020

Time to ring some changes

So we're at least twelve months to a vaccine that maybe can't be created.  If it can be created, eighteen months wouldn't be surprising.  We don't have any strong expectation that having had COVID-19 makes you immune, or immune to next year's strain.

It's looking a whole lot like are no economic choices between full collectivism -- the masses of unemployed will be fed and housed and cared for out of public funds -- and the Bad Place.

I expect this to start showing up in the general political awareness in about a week.


Nick Alcock said...

There is actually strong evidence that a vaccine is possible, on the grounds that we already *have* a vaccine against SARS (it just didn't have time to go through full clinical trials before SARS disappeared), and it appears to have significant efficacy against this too -- not surprisingly, since SARS-CoV-2 is 80% sequence-homologous with SARS.

If COVID-19 is like similar coronaviral diseases, there will be a moderate immune response, giving about five or ten years' immunity, before you can catch it again. Whether the next bout would be in general better (due to some immunity persisting) or worse (you're older) is of course not known at all, and is crucial for knowing whether this is a disease for which legally mandatory planetwide vaccination is essential or just something for which vaccination is a seriously good idea.

It could still be worse -- it could have had SARS's death rate. Or MERS's. 50% death rate, spreads like the common cold -- now *that* would be apocalyptic. (And no worse than the first round of the Black Death was, and that changed society forever, empowering the peasantry due to reduced numbers and bringing the medieval period to a close.)

Graydon said...

+Nick Alcock -- the infectious disease types are not sanguine about a vaccine; it could be, it could be not. Have to try it and see. (which includes the full clinical trials! there was a promising candidate vaccine for SARS, but I don't think one could properly could say we've got one.) And being very much like SARS doesn't mean that much in terms of vaccines. This all weird fussy wet nanomachinery stuff, and ridiculous small differences sometimes matter while sometime what looks like a huge difference doesn't matter at all.

The infectious disease specialists have been publicly "have to count antibodies" about immune responses; why some diseases are lifetime immunity and other diseases are ninety day immunity is completely not understood. And there really isn't anything that says COVID-19 can't be a lethal common cold; everybody gets it every year, producing a vaccine is extremely difficult, and there aren't any effective direct treatments.

Nothing says it is that, either, but right now we really don't know unless we've observed it (and there's enough of it to have error bars and confidence intervals).

arborman said...

Politically we will likely see a final push by the mammonite death cults. They won't give up their hold without a lot of our bodies, sadly.

Graydon said...

+arborman I would say that the whole "die for the DOW" things qualifies, yeah.

Important not to make the error of the French Revolution and preserve incumbent institutions; we need some new ones about value and agency, rather than profit and control.

arborman said...

+Graydon I'd love to think that we'll see some new institutions, but as you are aware the old ones don't tend to go away without piles of bodies. Incumbent power structures attract sociopaths likes moths to a streetlight, especially the weakened, fin de seicle version of institutions we currently live with.

Current power dynamics are dying of a legitimacy shortage. The first stage of grieving is denial. That's been the last decade or four re: climate science. Next comes anger - we are into it now that Covid makes denial untenable. Oligarchs and slavers are going to be willing to express and inflict a lot of anger before we get anywhere near acceptance. If we are very lucky we can at least get to bargaining before the body count gets too high.

Didn't realize how useful the whole 5 (6) stages of grief work as a metaphor until I started writing the above.

Graydon said...

+arborman The five stages of grief are a bit misnamed; it's what happens when a human has to deal with an event that exceeds their immediate applicable change budget. Grief totally applies and is a common case, but it's not the most common. Most common (in our present post-industrial mammonite Late Capitalism) is getting ground in the gears.

Applies to all kinds of things; it applies a lot to infants -- before turning 8 and getting theory of mind, infants -- because they have no way to really expect things other than the things that happen every day.