This is a thread to list important insights and key open questions about the coronavirus and the coronavirus response. The inspiration for this thread is Eliezer’s post below.
I’d like this thread to be a source of claims and ideas that are self-contained and well-explained. This is not a thread to drop one-liners that assume I’ve been following your particular news feed or know what’s happening in your country or that I’ve read a bunch of studies on (say) viral load. There’s a place for such high-context discussion, and it is not this thread.
Please include in your answers either a claim or an open question, along with an explanation or an explicit model under which it makes sense. I will be moving answers to the comments if they don’t meet my subjective quality bar for justification – see the last justified answers thread for examples of what quality answers look like.
The purpose of giving models and data is to allow other people to build on your answer. Everyone can make arbitrary claims, but models and evidence allow for verification and dialogue.
The more concrete the explanation the better. Speculation is fine, uncertain models are fine; sources, explicit models and numbers for variables that other people can play with based on their own beliefs are excellent.
This thread is inspired by a post by Eliezer Yudkowsky which I’ll reproduce below, in which Eliezer lists eight answers that this sort of post would come up with.
These are not justified to the standard of the thread, so you (you!) can get some easy karma by leaving an answer that justifies one of these with the sources/data/explanation needed to argue for it. It includes much of the discussion elsewhere on LW (e.g. by Wei Dai, Zvi, Robin, and others), so it shouldn’t be hard to find the prior discussion.
Eliezer’s post (link):
My stab at a TOC:
1: The Dose Hypothesis—the theory that C19 fatalities vary by how high the initial dose, and possibly how it’s administered.
1a: So: Human trials of variolation are hugely urgent.
1b: So: Getting C19 from a roommate might be much worse than getting it on public transportation.
2: Challenge trials of vaccines save net lives.
3: Ventilators no longer look as important because they only save 15% of the patients on them.
4: There’s huge apparent variation in CFR by country, and explaining this, or explaining it away, seems kinda important.
4a: CFRs may be underestimated by up to 3-fold, based on looking at excess death rates year-over-year.
4b: CFRs may be overestimated because of too little testing.
5: There was a huge EMH failure w/r/t C19, and it hasn’t been explained away AFAIK.
6: Most of the economic damage from a real shock like this one is still due to the secondary demand shock, which can be prevented by decisive central bank action.
6a: We know the Fed isn’t currently doing enough here because inflation expectations are dropping, showing the AD shock exceeds the AS shock.
6b: Stock prices take into account the next 15+ years of earnings. The real C19 shock only damages the next 2 years of earnings. A financial recession would damage many more years. Stock prices mainly reflect central bank policy, not C19.
7: Face masks do work, though others seem to have mostly figured this out.
8: The mainstream media’s words on C19 may be best interpreted as not intended to mean things; like the way that MSNBC’s talk about Bloomberg being able to give each American over $1,000,000 can’t have had a concrete model of reality behind it.
Any items I’m missing here?