A Blog by Jonathan Low


Oct 22, 2021

The Reason Waning Covid Vaccine Immunity Is Good News

While the number of antibodies may be declining - as they are supposed to do - the quality of those that remain is much stronger than they were before vaccination, meaning that the body is far better able to protect itself against the virus. JL

Katherine Wu reports in The Atlantic:

Antibodies are supposed to peter out; that’s why they always do. Still, even as our antibodies are dwindling in absolute quantity, these scrappy molecules are enhancing their quality, continuing to replace themselves with new versions that keep improving their ability to bring the virus to heel. Months after vaccination, the average antibody found in the blood simply has higher defensive oomph.A slowdown in antibody production could be seen as a sign of an immune system that’s allocating its resources wisely, rather than working itself into a constant panic.

Why Zillow Has Stopped Buying Any More Homes

This was supposedly Ecommerce 101: owning actual assets is expensive and can lead to unexpected surprises. Thus, it is far more profitable to be a platform facilitating the operations of others. 

The leaders of Zillow and other tech companies should probably be required to go back and read their own business plans every year. JL

Joe Hernandez reports in NPR:

The real estate website Zillow announced it would stop buying and renovating homes through the end of the year as it works through a backlog of properties and it deals with worker and supply shortages. The company buys homes directly from sellers, completes the necessary upgrades and lists them for sale. "The spread of the delta variant globally has increased supply chain issues. It means higher prices for inputs; it raises the cost of delivering construction services."

The Most Hated Brands In the US, By State

Why does Indiana hate Red Bull? Why does Vermont hate YouTube? Why do Idaho and Nebraska hate Microsoft?

And does New York really even know what Lancome is, let alone actually hate it? Whatever. Haters gonna hate - especially on Twitter, where they are far more likely to tweet their dislikes than their likes. JL 

Elizabeth Segran reports in Fast Company:

Uber—a company that has been the target of controversy, from mistreating drivers to increasing prices during the pandemic—was the most hated brand in the United States. Uber was the most hated in eight states, including California and Arizona, while Lego was the most hated in six states including Massachusetts and Connecticut. In Washington, D.C., nearly 60% of tweets about Apple were negative. In Maine, more than 80% of tweets about McDonald’s were negative. And in Oregon, more than half the tweets about Pepsi were negative.

As Russian Covid Cases Skyrocket, Most Russians Remain Unvaccinated

Endemic distrust of the government was exacerbated by initially conflicted Russian government responses to the pandemic. And unusually speedy development of the Russian vaccine has spurred reluctance to accept vaccination, especially as President Putin has not revealed which vaccine he received. 

The government is fearful of imposing restrictions on a populace it knows does not trust it. JL

Valerie Hopkins reports in the New York Times:

Only 42 million of Russia’s 146 million inhabitants have been fully vaccinated, a rate well below the United States and most countries in the European Union. Its vaccination campaign has floundered, sociologists say, because of a combination of apathy and mistrust. “It’s about trust and approval in the government and the president." Many Russians believe political, rather than epidemiological, concerns drove policy. Mr. Putin, along with influential politicians and public figures, were not first in line to receive the vaccine.

Apps Are Part of Solution To Make Office Return More Palatable

Employers and landlords are using a variety of tangible and intangible incentives to lure employees back to the office. 

Apps can help as hybrid systems make information about everything from scheduling meetings to assessing the risk of Covid infection available to all employees. That said, landlords who have been hoping for a return to the good old days probably need to start thinking more seriously about adapting to much lower office occupancy rates, using that as an opportunity to reimagine how space may be productively redesigned, remarketed and used. JL

Peter Grant reports in the Wall Street Journal:

Landlords and employers want “to incentivize employees to come back.” (But) companies and landlords are having to find new ways to make employees comfortable about returning to the office after more than 18 months of remote work. The majority of employees still haven’t returned because of the Delta variant and the preference many employees have expressed for remote working. Workers use apps to help navigate the intricacies of office life, from booking conference rooms, ordering food and getting through security to interacting with nearby restaurants, entertainment venues and other local businesses.

Unvaccinated Have 11 Times Greater Chance of Dying From Covid Than Vaccinated

The latest CDC data confirm that Covid vaccination is the best means of reducing the threat posed by the virus and that the unvaccinated are at far greater risk those those who are vaccinated. 

The challenge, from a public policy and social science standpoint, is first, that the act of vaccination has become politicized in the US and second, that wealthy western countries, fearful of their citizens' anger at ongoing lockdowns, are hesitant to ship too many vaccine doses to developing countries, though it would help stop the spread, because the developed countries dont want to be caught short. Since many of the unvaccinated adult population appears to accept the risk, the answer may be in incremental advances with the vaccine hesitant rather than the vaccine resistant, and with the vaccination of younger children. JL

Emily Shapiro and colleagues report in ABC:

The CDC updated its website with data that shows vaccines still dramatically reduce the risk of testing positive or dying from COVID-19, even amid the latest delta surge. Unvaccinated people had an over-six times greater risk of testing positive for COVID-19 and over 11 times greater risk of dying from the virus, compared to the vaccinated. In every age group, the death rate was higher for COVID-19 among unvaccinated populations. Americans 80 and older had the highest rate of deaths among fully vaccinated people per capita, though their risk of death was about 5.7 times lower than their unvaccinated counterparts in the same age group.

Oct 21, 2021

How Covid Vaccine Makers Are Preparing For A Worse Future Variant

All the major vaccine manufacturers are preparing for the possibility of an 'escape variant,' a previously unidentified Covid strain which suddenly emerges with the power to overwhelm current vaccines. JL  

Emily Waltz reports in Nature:

The need is the possible emergence of an ‘escape variant’ — a dominant strain of SARS-CoV-2 that evades the fledgling immunity established through vaccines and previous infections. No such strain has yet been identified, but Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and other leading COVID-19 vaccine makers are gearing up for that scenario by updating their vaccines to match variants such as Beta and Delta, testing them in clinical studies and tuning internal workflows. Their goal is to learn from these trials and smooth out kinks in their processes, so that they can move fast if, or when, a true escape variant emerges