Could we Vaccinate Twice as Many People?

Michael Minna raises an intriguing possibility in an opinion piece in the New York Times: Instead of giving people two shots of a vaccine, we could give them only one and delay the second dose until enough vaccines are available.

The current vaccines are designed to be administered in two steps. The first step provides the initial exposure of the body to virus antigens. The second is a booster designed to increase and prolong immunity. Here is the chart … more

Losing Taiwan Means Losing Japan

source: openstreetmap.org

Interesting article about the geopolitical importance of Taiwan to Japan.

Taiwan is a chokepoint of great utility for blockading Japan. The Taiwan Strait, it notes, is a Japanese maritime lifeline that runs from Europe and the Middle East, and based on PLA [People’s Liberation Army, China’s military] studies, Japan receives 90 percent of its oil imports, 99 percent of its mineral resources, and 100 percent of its nuclear fuel needs from ships that travel across these sea lanes.

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Accelerating Vaccine Development

Developing a new vaccine and getting it approved is a slow and tedious process. With the current coronavirus vaccines, it seems, it was the careful testing that took longest.

Allegedly, it took the pharmaceutical company Moderna two days in January to develop the vaccine. I am not sure how much we should take this claim at face value. Think about pharma companies that have thousands of potential drug candidates in their data bases. Is it fair to say “we … more

Comparing Psychotherapy to Cash Transfers

close-up photography of 1 U.S dollar banknote lot

There is a new paper (thanks, Habakuk) that compares psychotherapy to cash transfers in Kenya (direct link). It is witty and interesting to read. And it is brutal. Here is the abstract:

We study the economic and psychological effects of a USD 1076 PPP unconditional cash transfer, a five-week psychotherapy program, and the combination of both interventions among 5,756 individuals in rural Kenya. One year after the interventions, cash transfer recipients had higher consumption, asset holdings, and revenue, as

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Crowd-Forecasting the Covid-19 Pandemic

Some time ago I started working on a crowd-forecasting app for my PhD (code). The app allows experts and non-experts to make predictions for the future trajectory of Covid-19. We use this app to submit case and death forecasts for Germany and Poland to the German and Polish Forecast Hub (as part of a pre-registered research project on short-term forecasting). So far this has proved to be surprisingly successful. According to our own evaluation, a crowd of around … more

Giving Tuesday – Maximize the Effect of Your Donations

two Euro banknotes

Every year on the 1st of December, facebook matches millions of Dollars in donations. If you, for example, donate $20, facebook will put another $20 on top (at least for the first donations).

The event starts on Tuesday, December 1st at 8.00am EST (that is 14.00 in Berlin and 13.00 in London). The entire thing will probably only last seconds, so it is important to donate exactly at 8.00am EST.

This is an excellent opportunity to double the amount of … more

Who Should Get a Vaccine and When?

Announcements of early coronavirus vaccine breakthroughs have inspired new hope this may be the beginning of the end of Covid-19. Developing a vaccine is one thing. How best to distribute a vaccine is a whole different question – with some difficult ethical questions.

The large scale distribution of a vaccine is an an incredible logistic task. Sure, things have become easier since the 19th century. Back then people transported a cowpox ‘vaccine’ over the Atlantic by creating a chain of … more

Replication Markets for Covid-19 Preprints

white microscope on top of black table

ReplicationMarkets is launching another project – this time users are asked to predict and bet on the success of preprint papers on Covid-19. The process is simple: there is survey period (ending soon) and a market period (going until November 18th). During the survey period you are asked to make predictions like “How likely is this paper to get published in a journal with” or “How many citations will this paper get within a year” (4 items in total). During … more

How the Virus Spreads

Visualization of the coronavirus causing COVID-19

El PaĆ­s published an article with very nice visualizations of how the coronavirus spreads via aerosols. It’s a light and informative read. Main takeaways:

  • The main risk is spending prolonged time periods with an infected person in an unventilated rooms
  • (Ordinary) masks only help little in this scenario once the air is saturated with aerosols. Good ventilation and shortening the time spend together is most important.
  • Masks help during shorter encounters and if distance cannot be maintained.
  • Speaking (and
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Using Facial Recognition to Identify Police Officers

white box security camera on wall

In many instances, police have used facial recognition technology to identify protesters and suspects. Clearview AI, a private company, has collected billions of photos from ordinary people (chances are good you are in their database) and made them available to law enforcement.

Now private activists are building facial recognition tools to identify police officers during protests. Oh the irony. I reckon that the most interesting aspect of this will become the legal side: Building the tools and collecting … more