Three Months of Crowd-Forecasting Covid-19

Note: I posted this on the LessWrong Forum on December 31st 2020. It is somewhat related to this post I made about the project previously.

Forecasting is hard and many forecasting models do not do a particularly good job. The question is: can humans do better? And if so, how can we best use that? This is what I have tried to investigate in the last few months. 

Many platforms like Metaculus, Good Judgement, or the Delphi more

First Doses First

The UK moved to a first dose first strategy, where they prioritize vaccine uptake over administering second doses. This means that instead of administering the second dose after three weeks, the UK will delay the booster shot to increase the number of people who have been vaccinated at least once. This is probably excellent news. As I’ve written about before, this essentially means we can vaccinate twice as many people in the beginning.

Here is the relevant quote from … more

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


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.


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


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