No news is (often) good news. At old Magic: The Gathering tournaments, judge Tony Parodi would often tell us, ‘if your opponent did not show up, that is your best possible situation.’ Every week, when I set out to write the Covid update, I held out the hope that at some point, perhaps soon, you would never read one of these again
Thank you for these posts, they were a good source of information throughout the pandemic and earned me a few dollars on polymarket as well.
Thank you very much for your work on these, Zvi. They were absolutely invaluable for me and my family.
Your analysis over the course of the COVID pandemic was both rational and practically useful in informing decisions I made about my own behavior in the first 18 months of the pandemic. I appreciate your clear thinking and your generosity in sharing it with the world.
Thanks, these were a great roundup and extremely informative. It was hard to find a true middle-of-the-road take on everything during one of the most polarizing events ever, but you did it. Looking forward to reading your future work.
"This suggests that Covid simply isn’t a substantial risk of death anymore, even for the unvaccinated." Hard to square with there continuing to be roughly 400 deaths per day from Covid, 4x more than an average flu year...
Just a big Thank You! For all your covid posts and work therein. You were a net increase in the sanity of the world.
It really is the end of an era. I've been reading since the summer of 2020 and you have been so head-and-shoulders more informative than any other source that it made me sympathize with conspiracy theorists and religious cults screaming their forbidden truth to a crazy world.
Your forbidden truth was actually true though, and for that I'm immensely grateful.
I only found your Covid posts part-way through the pandemic but have found them generally high value. Thank you for the time you put into them.
Thank you so much for all of it. You've taught us so much, and following your thought process and methodology has been really helpful for general epistemic improvement.
I dunno about that -- for a given level of noise, a smaller signal-to-noise ratio means a small signal. The facts that we haven't detected human-to-human transmission of H5N1 puts an upper limit to how prevalent it is. The nearest possible world to ours where it is known whether H5N1 can spread among humans isn't one where we have better capabilities to tell, it's one where it spreads so easily that it's hard to miss even with our crappy capabilities. See also https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/mnS2WYLCGJP2kQkRn/absence-of-evidence-is-evidence-of-absence, https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/85LY7zQhTkWo4PmRc/harder-choices-matter-less, etc.
Thank you, Zvi! These posts helped me so much.
Thank you for these posts, and congratulations on the end of a great run!
Thank you for these posts! Not only has it been a great source of information to help guide my pandemic related decisions, your snarky writing style made them a delight to read.
And yeah, I've been treating the pandemic as over for some time now, and I'm as happy to have to stop reading these posts for the latest updates, as you are to stop having to write on this topic.
If all cause mortality no longer shows much of an increase, what does it mean that 2,500 people are still listed as dying each week from Covid? Are we at the area where most of those people would have died from something else within fairly short order?
Zvi writes: "A fun note: Bret Stephen says in his column that the conclusions of new study on the efficacy of masks were unambiguous. The study says ‘relatively low adherence… hampers drawing firm conclusions’ and ‘there is uncertainty about the effects of face masks.’ Same as it ever was."
To be a little charitable to Stephens, the twitter dunk omits the next sentence. What Stephens actually says is that the study's lead author said in an interview that it was unambiguous that:
" 'There is just no evidence that they' — masks — 'make any difference,' he told the journalist Maryanne Demasi. 'Full stop.' "
Ok, Bayesians generally don't accept that there is literally "no evidence" in cases like this, but making some allowance for normal language:
- I assume it's likely true that Tom Jefferson is the lead author of the study and that Ms. Demasi quoted him accurately.
- If so, his statement doesn't allow for *much* ambiguity about whether there is "evidence" for the efficacy of masks, as he uses that term. I think it's probably reasonable for Stephens to say that Jefferson has said that it's unambiguous that there is no evidence that masks are effective.
- Ultimately, I think it's less of a contradiction than Zvi implies: it's certainly *possible* that both (a) we don't know if masks are effective and that (b) there's no evidence that masks are effective.
On this general point, of course, the more we've looked for "evidence" and the less "evidence" we've found, the less likely it is that masks are substantially effective. Cf. Ivermectin. Neither Jefferson's quote nor the sections of the study Zvi quotes tell us much about where we are on that path.