Online home of Jeremy Scheff

My COVID origin take

There are three major hypotheses for the origin of COVID:

  1. Natural zoonosis - jump from animals to humans, such as at the Wuhan wet market
  2. Lab leak of engineered virus - leak of an engineered virus at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) through gain-of-function research
  3. Other WIV-related origin - non-engineered virus exposed to humans somehow through the activities of the WIV (such as a lab leak, or infecting someone out collecting samples for WIV in some bat cave)

#1 is the mainstream opinion, advocated by most prominent scientists and government officials.

#2 is treated by some as a conspiracy theory, but certainly seems like less of a crazy conspiracy theory than it did a couple years ago.

#3 is kind of mundane compared to #2, so maybe gets less attention, but IMHO it is very plausible.


I think the pandemic is about over

Why make these Covid posts? Isn't the Internet saturated with hot takes already? Am I really adding anything here?

I think the only reason for me to write about Covid is so I have a record to look back on what I thought at the time, which is kind of interesting for me, but maybe not so interesting for you :)

And what I think now is that the pandemic in the US is about over.


Do Covid lockdowns still make sense in the US?

There are two possible goals that a government might have when imposing lockdown. The first goal is to eradicate the disease. The second goal is to prevent overloading hospitals with tons of sick patients at the same time. This is the "flatten the curve" strategy, where the idea isn't really to prevent people from getting infected, but to spread out the infections over time.

Those two goals are pretty different. Eradicating the disease is much harder. It requires a much stricter lockdown, and it is much more difficult to achieve when the disease is widespread in the population. Flattening the curve is easier (not "easy", just "easier") because it requires a less strict lockdown.


A simple explanation for why modeling COVID-19 is hard

Over at FiveThirtyEight there is a great article about why it's so hard to model the effects COVID-19. Basically their answer is that there are many factors that go into a model, but many of them are very uncertain, and many of them are also dynamic. For instance, what is the probability of transmission when an infected person interacts with a non-infected person? There's a lot of uncertainty in that estimate. But also, it's going to change over time. Particularly, as the pandemic worsens, people will likely do more social distancing and other mitigation strategies, resulting in a lower transmission rate.

Tricky stuff to predict precisely! But I think that's not quite the complete picture, and there's an even simpler and clearer explanation.


My take on COVID-19

I have a bit of time on my hands right now, so I figured I'd write up my current COVID-19 take. Not really because I think anyone cares. I mean, there are many better informed takes out there. I'm mostly writing this for myself, so I can look back on it and see how my perception has changed.