Comment by Andrew_Clough on Covid 2/11: As Expected · 2021-02-19T15:18:28.247Z · LW · GW

It also applies to the stock market where buying an index fund that just invests in everything leads to fairly regular positive returns.

Comment by Andrew_Clough on Making Vaccine · 2021-02-05T20:51:28.410Z · LW · GW

That's only for raw materials.  Actual production seems to have involved a fair amount of skilled labor per dose which probably dominates the $2 figure.  A commercial vaccine can automate that but then you've got lots of development costs as well as logistics and compliance to worry about.  I wouldn't expect that this vaccine is especially cheap.

Comment by Andrew_Clough on What evidence will tell us about the new strain? How are you updating? · 2020-12-31T19:50:59.792Z · LW · GW

One thing that makes this disease hard to reason about is the high k.  That is, most people infect a very small number of people but some people infect large numbers. When case numbers are less than a thousand we should't expect a strong signal regardless of the underlying infectivity of the new strain.  This is evidence against it being significant but I fear its not very strong evidence.

Comment by Andrew_Clough on Covid 12/24: We’re F***ed, It’s Over · 2020-12-24T21:14:44.806Z · LW · GW

For me an important factor is that we have three different pints of data that suggest the new strain is more infectious.  First, it's rapidly replacing the existing strain in areas where it is preset.  Second, those areas are seeing surges of infections that don't occur in other areas.  Third, it seems like individuals infected with the new strain have 3 or 4 times the viral load of individuals with the previous strain - which would neatly explain higher transmissiblility. I'm going with an 85% chance that this is genuinely more transmissible.

I'm not at all sure our current wave will fade before the new strain starts making an impact so I'm 50% on two waves.

 Higher peak viral load does correlate with more severe symptoms but not that strongly.  I think it's unlikely that this strain is less virulent than the previous one because most transmission happens before symptom onset and there isn't as much selective pressure for that as their would be for a virus with more normal kinematics.  Post herd immunity there'll probably be selective pressure for longer incubation periods and that might lead to less virulence, but that's further down the road.  Because most severe disease happens when viral load has gone down I figure it's most likely that how well the virus is able to fool the host's immune system causes both peak viral load and severe disease but I'm very unsure about this.  Still, this is only a half order of magnitude in max viral load and that varies by many orders of magnitude between individuals and is still only weakly correlated with disease severity so even if it has an effect I don't expect it will be large.

Comment by Andrew_Clough on What are objects that have made your life better? · 2020-05-27T14:37:37.463Z · LW · GW

More umbrellas. I keep a big one at home and small folding umbrellas at work and in my backpack. They're relatively cheap and sometimes you unexpectedly really need one.

Comment by Andrew_Clough on Jimrandomh's Shortform · 2020-04-17T14:53:56.259Z · LW · GW

Do we have any good sense of the extent to which researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology are flying out across China to investigate novel pathogens or sites where novel pathogens might emerge?

Comment by Andrew_Clough on April Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-04-04T16:52:03.724Z · LW · GW

On TWiV 595 they did an interview with a doctor who said he'd been able to get the survival rate of intubated patients up to 50% by using proning, though I don't recall them going into the details.

Comment by Andrew_Clough on Taking Initial Viral Load Seriously · 2020-04-04T15:48:17.325Z · LW · GW

From my understanding of how the learned immune response works an infection has to grow to a certain size before it really starts to kick in. That would tend to suggest that, if a dose is enough to cause an infection in the first place, danger will remain roughly constant up to some inflection point before starting to become less dangerous.

Of course as doses go down the chance that the innate immune system cleans it up or none of the viruses manage to find an ACE2 receptor goes up. But in those cases you won't be training the immune system.

Comment by Andrew_Clough on How credible is the theory that COVID19 escaped from a Wuhan Lab? · 2020-04-04T15:40:29.600Z · LW · GW

The people on This Week in Virology seemed convinced that the spike protein wasn't anything that had previously been seen and wasn't anything a human would design if they were working on creating a new virus.

SARS-Covid-2 doesn't look at all like a biological weapon. If they were dong experiments on trying to design a novel spike I don't think they'd do it in such an otherwise dangerous virus.

I can imagine that this virus infected someone in China, was brought to the lab for analysis then escape from the lab into Wuhan but that's a lot of burdensome details. And my guess is that if they'd had the virus in a lab then the overall response would have looked different but that's weak evidence.

So overall I'd say it isn't impossible but I'd give less than 1% odds.

Comment by Andrew_Clough on Pascal's Mugging: Tiny Probabilities of Vast Utilities · 2007-10-20T19:53:42.000Z · LW · GW

I think that if you consider that the chance of a threat to cause a given amount of disutility being valid is a function of the amount of disutility then the problem mostly goes away. That is, in my experience any threat to cause me X units of disutility where X is beyond some threshold is less than 1/10 as credible as a threat to cause me 1 unit of disutility. If someone threatened to kill another person unless I gave them $5000 I would be worried. If they threatened to kill 10 poeple I would be very slightly less worried. If they threatened to kill 1000 people I would be roughly 10 times less worried. If they threatened to kill 1,000,000 people I wouldn't pay any attention at all. Taking these data points and extrapolating I form the heuristic that the chance of someone threatening me with X units of disutility over a threshold based on how much they are demanding and whether I can fulfill that demand decreases faster than linearly.

[i]Nothing could possibly be that weak.[/i]

On the contrary, I think it is not only that weak but actually far weaker. If you are willing to consider the existance of things like 3^^^3 units of disutility without considering the existence of chances like 1/4^^^4 then I believe that is the problem that is causing you so much trouble.

Comment by Andrew_Clough on The Crackpot Offer · 2007-09-08T22:29:03.000Z · LW · GW

I expect that many people who grew up to be scientists and mathematicians attempted to create famous proofs when they were young, but I also expect that for many engineers such as myself our youthful folly went more along the direction of perpetual motion machines. I'd actually like to see some research on what the correlations really are.