A Blog by Jonathan Low


Aug 7, 2020

Why A Covid Cure Will Take More Than Personal Immunity

If globalization has taught humanity anything, it should be how interrelated simple existence has become. And that is especially true when it comes to finding a solution to the Covid pandemic.

Individual cures, like vaccines, are insufficient if they do not work equally well for all. JL

Ed Cohen reports in Scientific American:

Immunity-as-defense helped explain the vaccines, but this overlooked how collectives contribute to the progression of disease. It assumed that if an individual could be vaccinated, that would solve the collective problem. (But), individual organisms are not singularities; we exist in complicated contexts with other living beings. Immune systems cannot 'defend' us in the absence of communal systems. An individual's capacity to heal depends not only upon the organism's innate capacity. Healing depends upon social and environmental resources.

Covid Mugs Movie: Mulan Is Coming To Disney As a $30 Streaming Rental

Seems like a lot of money for a recession-stricken country, but at $9 per average ticket, plus pop-corn and a soda, the price is about the same as two people going to a theater.

The big question is whether people will pay in sufficient quantities to drive the change to streaming, or whether price point perceptions still determine behavior. Even in a pandemic. JL

Alissa Wilkinson reports in Re/code:

The coronavirus pandemic has trashed the entertainment industry. Mulan will be released on Disney+ on September 4. Subscribers will pay an additional $29.99 to rent the film. It’s still less than the cost of two or three movie tickets in many cities. Add popcorn and soda and the cost is about the same. Changes in Hollywood have always been propelled by new technologies and social norms, from the addition of sound to self-censorship. In countries without Disney+  including China, the company plans to release the film in theaters that same day.

The Reason the Age of Mass Surveillance Cannot Last Forever

The author obviously has a distinctly informed point of view, based on his personal philosophy and experience.

His optimism rests on his belief in human demand for freedom. Whether that faith is justified remains to be seen. JL

Edward Snowden comments in Wired:

When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Herein lies the folly of every system of rule whose future relies more heavily on the omnipotence of its methods than the popularity of its mandate. There were times when empires were won by bronze and boats and powder. None survive. What outlasts each forgotten flag is our greatest technology, language: the empire of the mind. Not a day passes without individuals searching for the means to improve the systems that govern our lives.

How Wearables and AI May Inform Users If They Have Covid

 One ring to rule them all. Sort of...JL

Joanna Stern reports in the Wall Street Journal:

I’ve worn an Oura ring, Fitbit, Garmin fitness band and Apple Watch, along with two high-tech skin patches, all packed with sensors. They’ve sent hundreds of temperature readings, blood oxygen levels, heart beats—even cough counts—to my phone. All to find out if I have Covid-19. Tech companies are figuring out if wearable devices can spot Covid-19,  seeing if they can function as a personal early-detection system to contain the virus. They take sensor data from healthy people and those afflicted by Covid, look for patterns, and create AI that could alert others whose own data patterns point to trouble.

Due To Covid, the Workforce Is About To Change Dramatically

As those in big, expensive coastal cities disperse, many of the supplemental jobs that support them will be lost in those cities as well.

But that could mean those cities become less expensive - eventually - and that all those cool restaurants, bars and coffee shops follow their customers to the suburbs and smaller cities. JL

Derek Thompson reports in The Atlantic:

When the pandemic is over, one in six workers is projected to work from home or co-work at least two days a week. Telepresence will increase. As more people work from home, emptier offices mean fewer lunches at restaurants, fewer happy hours and less work for office buildings’ cleaning, security, and maintenance. If business travel falls by 20%, it means fewer jobs across airlines and hotels. As their connection to the office is virtual, more may take on side gigs and start their own companies. Given the okay to go remote, workers in expensive cities may move to cheaper metros.

Why Lack of Test Subject Diversity Threatens To Undermine Covid Vaccine Trials

The issue from a social science perspective is that a vaccine which disproportionately affects people of color may be less effective than believed if tested primarily on white subjects.

And if the peoples that make up a majority of the world's population are still vulnerable to Covid due to vaccine inadequacies undiscovered by poor testing protocols, then the rest of civilization remains vulnerable as well. JL

Oliver Milman reports in The Guardian:

Oxford reported a vaccine it is developing with AstraZeneca elicited a “strong immune response." A separate vaccine by Moderna, also saw encouraging results. (But) in the Oxford trial of 1,000 healthy adults, 91% were white, with 5% Asian and less than 1% black. The Moderna trial saw 45 adult participants, 40 of them white and two black. This risks developing a vaccine for a condition that has disproportionately hospitalized and killed people of color in the UK and US. People from different racial backgrounds respond differently to drugs and therapies. "This vaccine is an urgent priority and we all want it quickly but we can’t cut corners because something may be missed.".

Aug 6, 2020

A Zoom Forum Is Changing the Way ICU Docs Treat Very Sick Covid Patients

Data, experience - and communication - saves lives. JL

Ron Winslow reports in Stat:

Swamped by overflowing ICUs and not-seen-before ways the coronavirus attacks the body, doctors caring for the pandemic’s sickest patients share their experiences in real time, to find ways to stanch Covid-19’s toll. 200 physicians from several countries and dozens of states participate in the Zoom sessions. Doctors present case studies highlighting technical issues, the treatment of patients, and discuss the ethical challenges of which patients should be offered the technology. "Texas, Florida, and Arizona gain from what hospitals in the Northeast went through.”