Tag: US

Corona Virus and Climate Change Models: How Scary Would You Like it to Be?

 

I was recently reminded of a joke from the days when I was an ad executive (before I became a lawyer).

Client: What time is it?

Ad Exec (looking at watch): What time would you like it to be?

It made me realize the similarity between advertising advice and mathematical modelling used to justify decisions about both climate change and COVID-19.

Politician: How scary is the model forecast?

Modeler: How scary would you like it to be?

What they have in common is that the client gets the answer they want. This brings me to the misuse of models by much of the media and many politicians, to make really uninformed political decisions about important issues like climate change and Covid-19.

 

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When Will Canada Get The COVID-19 Vaccine?  At What Price?

 

Keeping the world in lockdown is not a long-term solution for Covid-19.  It’s time to think ahead.  The lockdown will gradually have to be lifted, creating new risks of infection.  We cannot really be safe, we are told, until after a vaccine becomes available, usually estimated at 10 – 24 months away.

 

The Race for a Covid-19 Vaccine

 

Scientists in many countries are racing to be the first to prove a vaccine, with some saying they are nearing success. But if one succeeds, all of the 7.5 billion people on Earth cannot be vaccinated immediately.  No single producer can supply everyone quickly enough, so which countries get sufficient quantities of the vaccine, in what  priority, will depend on what each country offers the inventor.

 

Who Gets the New Vaccine First, at What Price?

 

The inventor may decide as a goodwill gesture to give away its vaccine to whoever can produce it.  But the inventor may instead decide to patent the vaccine and license (permit) producers in several countries to produce it. In either case there would be serious issues around pricing and availability.

What is the fair price for a vaccine to save millions of lives and prevent further shutdowns of the global economy?  And how many people can afford to pay for it at that price?

Since everyone can’t get the vaccine while production is ramping up, who should get it first? The countries which are the highest bidders?  And within a country, how should the scarce vaccine be distributed — to front-line workers first?  the elderly?  those in the food supply chain?  It is too early to answer these questions but not too early to think about them and plan ahead.

 

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The Washington Times Headline: “Coronavirus hype biggest political hoax in history”.

 

The Washington Times (not to be confused with the Washington Post) has published two recent articles with that “hoax” story.  This is one of them: Washington Times

This article makes two points: first, that the models forecasting a large number of Covid-19 deaths in the US were wildly wrong, and second, that the real number of Covid-19 deaths will not be many more than in a bad flu year.  The stories imply that the fear caused by the virus and the hugely costly political response of lockdown were unnecessary reactions to a mass media hoax.  Are these stories right?.

 

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Covid-19: How Are We Doing?

The media coverage of COVID-19 infections and deaths by country has been running along the bottom of our TV screens every day.  But what do the bare numbers and their interpretations in media stories mean without context?

The media stories are strongly influenced by the political orientation of the particular media outlet. For example, the criticism of the US, and particularly its President, has usually shown the US as the country with the highest total number of deaths in the world.  Is this criticism valid? Well, that depends upon how you look at it.

Deaths Per Million People

 

I look at it on a per million population basis, using the numbers from Worldometer. Leaving aside some outlier countries with tiny populations, the developed countries with reasonable statistics are ranked below.

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