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About Altherion

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  1. I think he is talking on a per-capita basis. The US is much larger than Germany and its per-capita 7-day average rate topped out at roughly 1 dose per day per 100 people (given a population of 330-odd million, that's what the 3.3 million rate you quote works out to). Germany is currently at a 7-day rate of roughly 0.8 doses per day per 100 people, but it must be kept in mind that their share of people with a single dose is only about 30% (compared to about 44% for the US) and their rate of fully vaccinated people is dramatically lower at only 8.5% (compared to 32% for the US). So they're going fast, but it is in some sense easier because their current state is nearly their whole population needing at least one more dose and more than two thirds needing both doses.
  2. Looks like vaccines for teens in the US are coming sooner rather than later: This should also temporarily revive the flagging vaccination rates as all of those people with teens who want the vaccine try to get it.
  3. Ah, but there is. Wind and solar are intermittent whereas nuclear can be used as a baseline. Or to put it differently, if you truly intend to transition away from fossil fuels rather than just use wind and solar as a tiny fraction of production, you will require a great deal of storage. Nuclear reduces the size of this storage (as do hydro and geothermal, but those are limited by terrain). This is why China has not stopped constructing new reactors even though wind and solar prices are at an all-time low. All power has a price. Nuclear has a terrifying reputation, but it's not actually significantly more deadly to people or the environment than the alternatives. How many people have all nuclear disasters combined killed? Even the wildest estimate will not come to, say, this single dam failure. Maybe one day we will figure out how to produce and store energy in a distributed and ecologically friendly way, but with technology that is available in the next decade or so, we must live with certain risks no matter which way you go. The newer nuclear reactors try to minimize these risks. Right, pumped hydro is terrain dependent and also requires both considerable physical area and a lot of water (so it's not all that eco-friendly). Furthermore, you run the same risks with it as you do with dams: if there's an earthquake or other natural disaster or the infrastructure is damaged by incompetence or sabotage, there is potential for catastrophic flooding. There isn't an obvious way to store energy without clear shortcomings.
  4. To be clear, this is not true of the world as a whole. There are places (e.g. China) where nuclear plants go from start of construction to fully operational in less than half that time. The issue is not that we can't physically build them quickly and safely, it's that in much of the Western world, an unholy alliance of fossil fuel companies and environmentalists have created a regulatory environment where the construction process is lengthy and the plants themselves are unprofitable. There are people who are trying to overcome this with intrinsically safer reactors (e.g. the molten salt variety), but it's tough sledding in the US. The batteries used in this context are typically not only electrical (although those are used too), but also pumped hydro (where water is pumped up when power is available and flows down producing energy when it is not), various mechanical methods which store energy in solid matter either gravitationally or rotationally, various chemical tricks and many other methods. However, you are right in that the storage requirements for wind and solar are truly astounding so even with all of these storage methods, it's still extremely difficult to see a transition to mainly intermittent sources. It's a difficult problem with a few solutions. The most popular one is to simply have some nuclear (or if you can't, then natural gas) around for a baseline as even a small constant capacity dramatically reduces the storage needs. Another way to do it is to spread the energy generation and distribution over very large scales (think all of Europe, Asia and Africa) which averages out the intermittency... but of course the political problems here are orders of magnitude worse than those with nuclear.
  5. It's not an ethical question so much as a technical one. First, vaccines are, at best, a medium-term solution. Even if you could magically give every person in India a vaccine, you would see no effect for the first two weeks because that's how long they take to kick in. Since there is no such magic and even in the most organized places in the world, the rollout takes on the order of months, providing vaccines now will do pretty much nothing until the end of May. Second, the vaccines that are most prevalent in the US (i.e. Pfizer and Moderna) require cold storage. The US and EU have the infrastructure to distribute them, but this probably does not exist everywhere the vaccines need to go. Furthermore, the US is trying to export its AZ and J&J vaccines (which have no such storage requirements), but it's stymied by the fact that the manufacturing for these was shoddy and they now need more testing. We should and we will sort this out, but it's not an ethical issue (beyond the usual corruption that caused the shoddy manufacturing).
  6. The rate is so low because India still hasn't straightened out the testing situation. We had basically the same situation in New York City in March and April of 2020: nominally low infection rates, but very high hospitalization and death rates. The US eventually got widespread testing going to the point where everyone who wants a test can have one, but India is still limited by the number of tests which results in sky-high positivity rates and strangely low infection rates.
  7. That wasn't in the article. Is it from the pre-print? It's a bit disappointing if true, but probably doesn't matter too much (at least in the US) since most people are getting their second dose. Yes, I was a bit confused about that because for Pfizer, one is supposed to get the second dose after 3 weeks.
  8. The US did a similar study earlier and found that the mRNA vaccines are actually slightly better than that: It looks like the UK study is averaging the Pfizer and AZ (probably with a strong lean towards AZ since they have more of it) to get the 65%. If we knew that Pfizer and Moderna were 80% effective after one shot before April, the strategy for rolling out vaccines might have been different -- we might have done what New Hampshire did and just given everyone one dose as soon as possible rather than chase that additional 10-15%. However, now that the vaccination rate in the US is constrained by demand rather than supply, that argument is moot.
  9. That will never happen as long as there are many of these people though. The vaccine is a means of tricking the immune system into recognizing the virus and destroying it before it can do harm, but the downside of this is that it may not work well (or at all) for people with weakened immune systems. There is a variety of diseases and disorders (auto-immune disorders, organ transplants, etc.) which either directly or indirectly result in these people having weakened or suppressed immune systems and it's not at all obvious that even the best of the vaccines will work for them. There are also people who are allergic to something about the vaccine and therefore can't get it even if they wanted to. Thus, the only way to truly stop the virus from hurting people who are doing their best to stop it is to end it once and for all. I got my second shot of Pfizer yesterday. The reaction is way worse than after the first shot (this time, there was fever and muscle aches in addition to the sore arm), but it appears to be subsiding.
  10. The difference is in what exactly is being used as the denominator. The 39% refers to the percentage of those vaccinated relative to the entire population (including children) whereas the 50% is the percentage of all adults (and only adults).
  11. There is a curious phenomenon in the US vaccine distribution and consumption which you can see by, for example, looking at the Distribution tab of the NPR vaccine tracker. On the one hand, there are many states which are administering vaccines nearly as fast as they can get them. The extreme example here is New Hampshire which has literally administered 99% of the vaccines it received without reserving any for the second shot. Other high-usage states are reserving something for the second shot so their corresponding rates are somewhere between 80% and 90%. So far, so good... but on the other side of this distribution you have states like Alabama and Mississippi which have only administered 64% and 65% of the vaccines they've received respectively. And it's not that they're reserving more second doses because they also rank dead last in people who have received at least one dose. Thus, they're either very inefficient at distributing the vaccines or the people there simply don't want as many as the people in other states. It'll be curious to see how long the federal government is going to tolerate this before saying that states have to use some fraction of vaccines that they've already received before getting any more -- it doesn't make sense for the low-usage states to simply sit on millions of vaccine doses which can be quickly used elsewhere.
  12. No, but it's larger than at least one continent and also spread out: the doses have to go to Alaska, Hawaii and several islands in the Caribbean. No, I did not know that. Googling it leads mainly to a story of a local Virginian newspaper which says that a woman may have died of this (but it's not clear). Are you sure?
  13. I don't see how. The latest 7-day rolling average is over 3 million shots in the US per day. Given that there were fewer than 7 million J&J shots given in the US over all time, the rollout should be largely unaffected. I think this was true in January, but it's a solved problem -- we've manufactured the necessary equipment and figured out how to rapidly distribute the vaccine over the scale of a continent. Nobody needs to die for the greater good here -- there are enough Pfizer and Moderna doses to cover the gap and even one mRNA dose provides the same protection as J&J. This is true, but it would go in the opposite direction the moment anyone died of this issue (which has happened in Europe). It's better to stop it now and figure out what is going on.
  14. But that boat has sailed, has it not? The knowledge of the problem is out there so the increase in skepticism is pretty much inevitable. The pause attempts to limit it by avoiding any deaths due to the vaccine and also by distinguishing between the affected vaccine and ones which, as far as anyone can tell, are safe.
  15. Nobody is stopping the entire vaccine rollout. From the FDA/CDC statement: From their phrasing, less than 7 million doses of J&J have been administered out of a total of about 190 million doses. Even given the fact that J&J is one-and-done whereas the others need two shots, it's still a small fraction of vaccines. Also, a single shot of either Pfizer or Moderna gives comparable immunity to J&J so if we substitute the mRNA vaccines for J&J, we're not losing any immune time for anyone. Also, given that there are only 6 known cases, your knowledge of the subset is extremely imprecise and we don't actually know why all 6 were women between the ages of 16 and 48. I would agree with you if J&J was one of the main vaccines in the US, but given that it's pretty rare (and will remain so for at least another week or two), I think the total pause makes sense.
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