A Blog by Jonathan Low


Aug 5, 2021

Moderna Reports 93 Percent Vaccine Efficacy at 6 Months But Booster Needed Eventually

It is increasingly clear that the unvaccinated are going to generate more Covid variants which, in turn, means that those already vaccinated will probably need a booster shot. JL 

Kim Lyons reports in The Verge:

Moderna said its COVID-19 vaccine is 93 percent effective through six months after the second dose, but as new variants of the virus emerge, people who received the vaccine may need a booster shot before winter. Moderna said both a third shot of the original vaccine and new versions have demonstrated “robust antibody responses to COVID-19 variants of concern.” Moderna sold $5.9 billion worth of its coronavirus vaccine during the six-month period ending June 30th, for a total of 302 million doses.

Math Explains the Odds Of the Vaccinated Getting Infected With Covid Delta

The fully vaccinated are half as likely to catch the Covid Delta variant as the unvaccinated. They also carry less than half the viral load of the unvaccinated if they do get infected. 

Approximately 1% of those hospitalized for Covid in the US are vaccinated. JL 

Gary Cornell reports in Slate:

It is all about the “denominators.” If the denominator you chose in a calculation—the thing you’re dividing by—is the wrong one, you have fallen victim to what is called the base rate fallacy. It produces a striking number, but it tells you nothing about the odds of getting the disease if you are vaccinated. A statement like “75 percent of new cases are among the vaccinated” is almost totally meaningless. (As well as that) there were almost no hospitalizations among the infected-yet-vaccinated group, and no deaths.

Essential Workers Now Recognize Their Value And Refuse To Settle For Less

There are now approximately 9 million job openings in the US.

Many of them remain unfilled because essential workers have come to recognize their value and refuse to return to old jobs or accept new ones for which compensation and hours do not reflect that changed perception. JL 

Alexander Nieves reports in Politico:

The pandemic forced Americans to recalculate the value of workers in traditionally low-wage sectors. It became clearer than ever that our economy and social systems needed their workplaces - like the local grocery store or pharmacy - to stay open to function. Hazard pay, voluntary bonuses and other labor shifts during the pandemic reset the expectations for earnings across the income spectrum, from highly paid tech workers to low-wage cashiers. Essential workers now recognize that they are essential and are reluctant to return to roles they see as underpaying. More than 9 million jobs are unfilled.

Is AI Setting Users and Investors Up For Disappointment Again?

Investment in AI is expected to double this year and marketers have come to believe slapping the term on virtually any system that employs math exponentially adds to its value. 

But the reality is that while the potential may be great, AI has so far failed to achieve many of its supporters' most fervent hopes from diagnosing Covid to self-driving cars. The question is whether the breathless hype is setting the entire, ostensibly important, field up for failure before it really has an opportunity to demonstrate its power at scale. JL

Christopher Mims reports in the Wall Street Journal:

$37.9 billion has been invested in AI startups in 2021 so far, on pace to double last year’s amount. (But) across the fields it is disrupting or supposed to disrupt, AI has fallen short of many of the promises made by its advocates, from the disappointment of IBM’s Watson to the forever-moving target date for the arrival of self-driving vehicles. AI fuels a tech-industry drive to claim every system involving the least bit of machine learning qualifies as AI, and is therefore revolutionary. These claims can big investments (but) mislead the public and policy makers who decide how to prepare economies for new innovations.

470 Airlines Can Now Use IBM's Blockchain Covid Vaccine Passport

Airlines are anticipating that if Covid Delta variant numbers dont start to decline soon they will be required to either by governments or passenger demand to institute vaccine mandates. 

To prepare, they are testing digital vaccine passports, including the blockchain-based IBM system. JL 

Anna Quito reports in Quartz:

As international travel ramps up, Amadeus, a reservation system used by 474 airlines, has adopted IBM’s digital health passport called IBM Digital Health Pass. Instead of presenting paper-based certifications, travelers scan a QR code sent by email at the gate. Travelers without smart phones can print a QR code. The backend technology authenticates credentials against requirements of each country. Six airlines are using the system so far including Air Canada, and Norwegian Air Shuttle. Starting today, other airlines using Amadeus can activate it in their systems. JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic are using CommonPass.

How Persistent Covid Is Causing Many Businesses To Rethink Office Return

September, after Labor Day, was ostensibly when offices around the world were set to reopen. But the rising number of Delta variant cases has given rise to fears of infection from unvaccinated colleagues. And many parents are afraid school will be postponed, raising childcare issues again. 

As a result, many businesses have started postponing the onset of office returns until the situation becomes clearer. JL 

Michael Corkery and colleagues report in the New York Times:

September was supposed to mark a return to offices, a time to crank up productivity and reboot in-person corporate cultures that have withered during 18 months of Zoom calls. With the Delta variant of the coronavirus surging and infections rising across the country, those return to office plans are changing again. Many employers were in denial about rising infection rates. (But) the post-Labor Day dates for returns to offices were an artificial line in the sand. "Parents now are thinking that maybe their children won’t go to school in the fall.” (And) "people are afraid to go to work again."

Aug 4, 2021

First Prosecuted Case of Fake Covid Vax ID Travel Leads To $16,000 Fine

Two airline passengers attempting to enter Canada from the US were caught with fake vaccination cards and Covid test results. 

How they were discovered has not been revealed, but it suggests that those who thought it would be easy to evade such restrictions are wrong. And $16,000 in fines for each is no laughing matter. JL 

Aysha Qamar reports in Daily Kos:

In the first reported case of travelers using fake vaccination documents to enter Canada from the U.S., two airline passengers were caught submitting fake vaccination cards and COVID-19 test results. In addition to "providing false information related to proof of vaccination credentials and pre-departure tests," the passengers also failed to stay at government-authorized accommodations, a requirement for those entering the country. Each was fined $16,000 U.S. dollars for "non-compliance with entry requirements.” More serious penalties can include six months of prison time.