A Blog by Jonathan Low


Mar 2, 2021

New Vaccines Bring Choice and Complication To Rollout Process

Consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about the differences between various Covid vaccines and may soon demand a choice of which they take.

And while this may have some beneficial effects, it could also slow the vaccination process. JL

Andrew Joseph and Olivia Goldhill report in Stat:

All vaccines are not equal, and increasingly, health authorities and providers will be dealing with shots with varying attributes: different storage requirements, efficacy, dosing regimens, and manufacturing platforms. That, plus the possibility of a pickier public who may want a certain shot over another, could complicate an already-messy rollout. Some people may want to pick their vaccine as if it were a piece of produce they could squeeze to find the choicest option. As more vaccines get authorized, certain people, based on age or other risk factors for more severe Covid-19, (could be) prioritized for certain shots.

Is It Legal To Digitally Resurrect the Dead?

Aside from a few small countries in Europe, nothing about post-mortem use of an individual's online data and persona is, um, set in stone...JL 

Edina Harbinja reports in The Next Web:

Microsoft patented a chatbot that, using AI and machine learning, would bring our digital persona back to life for our family and friends to talk to. An AI-enabled chatbot that harvests information, including geolocation, motion, activity, photos, and Facebook data,  lets users create an avatar of themselves to live on after they die. There are currently no laws governing digital reincarnation. Your right to data privacy after your death is far from set in stone, and there is currently no way for you to opt-out of being digitally resurrected. Legal ambiguity leaves room for private companies to make chatbots after you’re dead.

N95 Masks Gather Dust In Warehouses As Nurses Forced To Reuse Old Ones

Old habits - like relying on traditional suppliers, even if they are Chinese but undersell American producers - die hard. JL 

Emily Kopp reports in Roll Call:

U.S. manufacturers say they have enough high-filtration respirators like N95s in their warehouses for every American adult - an inventory of 233 million N95 respirators or equivalent in warehouses and capacity to manufacture 298 million per month. They are calling on the CDC to revise guidance that discourages the general public from getting them. Hospitals are reluctant to take on new manufacturers and  continue to ration them and reuse them in part because the masks can be made more cheaply overseas.

Intangible Pandemic Value: 10 Second Video Clip Sells For $6.6 Million

Non fungible tokens are a new type of asset. They are unique - hence non-fungible - and tend to be intangible, ie, artwork available only online as opposed to physically. 

While the interest appears to be genuine, experts caution that, as in any new market, the assets are probably overvalued at present. JL

Elizabeth Howcroft and Ritvik Carvalho report in Reuters:

A new type of digital asset - known as a non-fungible token (NFT) has exploded in popularity during the pandemic as enthusiasts and investors scramble to spend enormous sums of money on items that only exist online. Blockchain allows the items to be publicly authenticated as one-of-a-kind. “Non-fungible” items cannot be exchanged on a like-for-like basis, as each one is unique in contrast to “fungible” assets like dollars, stocks or gold. NFTs range from digital artworks, sports cards and videos of a LeBron James dunk to pieces of land in virtual environments or exclusive use of a cryptocurrency wallet name

How Covid Vaccines Have Revolutionized the Battle Against Infectious Disease

The new vaccines pioneered by Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech use gene-based technologies that can be designed like computer code for specific outcomes. 

They are faster to develop and will eventually become less expensive, heralding a new era in fighting measles, mumps, chicken pox and a range of other more common diseases. JL

Peter Loftus reports in the Wall Street Journal:

New vaccines spurred by the pandemic are leading efforts to combat Covid-19 and herald a new arsenal of weapons for fighting lethal viruses in the future. First came messenger RNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, efforts that after years of trying figured out how to use fatty particles to deliver synthesized genetic code to cells. Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, is at the vanguard of a class of shots to mobilize a person’s immune defenses against the disease. These activate not just the antibodies that neutralize a virus but also the memory and T-cells that keep the immune defense alert for the long-term.

Why the Pandemic Did Not Cause Financial Ruin US Feared

Stimulus checks of a more substantial nature than in past downturns, tax law changes from 2018 that let states collect sales taxes on ecommerce sales and the Federal Reserve's low interest rate policies all helped soften the pandemic's economic impact. JL

Mary Walsh reports in the New York Times:

Data shows that a year after the pandemic wrought economic devastation, forcing states to revise revenue forecasts and prepare for the worst, for many the worst didn’t come. One reason: $600-a-week federal supplements that allowed people to keep spending, and states to keep collecting sales tax revenue, along with unemployment benefits. Tax-law changes let them compel out-of-state retailers to collect sales taxes on online purchases. The Federal Reserve helped by making credit available at very low interest rates, prompting investors that fueled a stock-market rally,

Mar 1, 2021

400 Arrested As Florida Cracks Down on Spring Break To Stop Covid

But dude! JL

NBC reports:

The arrests include 129 felonies, 145 misdemeanors and 2400 traffic stops. 50% are not from Florida. "Dirt cheap flights from anywhere, discounted rooms make it easy. The fact that their hometowns are too cold or not as open as Florida has made us the destination of choice." People are coming here "believing that we don’t care about the virus, and that we are up for anything."