BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2021-07-09 Fr

Things that went whizzing by that I want to remember...


This, from Andy Slavitt, who was one of the most positive voices in the rolling COVID-19 plague discussion over the past year and a half—well, it stopped me in my tracks. Slavitt said: Delta “is twice as infectious. Fortunately… we… have a tool that stops… Delta… in its tracks… vaccine”.

That does not make much sense to me.

I am told that the way to bet is that Delta as has an R[0] of 8, that mRNA vaccines are 80% protective, and further that they are 80% protective against death conditional upon your getting a case of the plague. And I am told that that is a somewhat cautious bet—that it could turn out that mRNA vaccines are in fact significantly more protective than these “80%” still semi-guesses…

But let’s run with what I have been told…

80% protective means 20% non-protective. That means that in a fully mRNA-vaccinated population Delta still has an R[0] of 1.6: greater than one. If Delta hits a fully mRNA-vaccinated population, it spreads and its R[t] does not drop below 1 until 8% of the population has had breakthrough cases. And at that point the plague still has lots of momentum: it does not reach the asymptote of the logistic until 16% of the—fully mRNA-vaccinated population has had a breakthrough case. And of those, 0.2% die. That means that 0.03% of your population dies from the thing.

Now that is a lot better from Delta hitting a Greenfield population—in which case R[t] rips through the population with extraordinary speed, and 1% of your population dies. But if we had a world of 8 billion people all of whom were fully mRNA-vaccinated, 0.03% is 2.4 million dead: that’s 10 years’ worth of influence right there.

So the right thing to say is not “vaccination stops the virus in its tracks”, but rather this, to the vaccinated: 

  • With the Delta variant, it is overwhelmingly likely that the virus will come to you.

  • When it does, if you are vaccinated there is then an 80% chance that your immune system will repel it on the beaches.





  • If you are vaccinated, even if you get it, there is only a minuscule chance that you will die—total mortality risk of 0.04%, which is about the chance that a 50 year-old American dies in a month: that’s the risk if you are vaccinated.

And this, to the not-vaccinated:


  • With the Delta variant, it is overwhelmingly likely that the virus will come to you.

  • if you are not vaccinated, then there is a 1% chance that you will then die—and that is with monoclonal antibodies and oxygen fighting on your side.

  • Don’t think hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin is going to help you: yes, they degrade the virus; but they also degrade your body; in the case of malaria these medications degrade the parasite more than they degrade your body, and so they are useful therapies; but we have no reason to think that is the case with SARC-CoV–2.

But that is not what Slavitt says:

Aya ElamroussiDelta Variant Is ‘Covid–19 on Steroids,’ Expert Says, with Cases Increasing in Nearly Half of US States: ‘That variant, first identified in India, accounted for 51.7% of all new Covid–19 infections in the country over the two weeks that ended Saturday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated…. Andy Slavitt…. “It’s twice as infectious. Fortunately, unlike 2020, we actually have a tool that stops the Delta variant in its tracks: It’s called vaccine”… 

LINK: <>

What is going on here?


One Video:

Kurt Campbell: The Biden Administration's Approach to Asia <>

Share Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality

Very Briefly Noted:

  • Dan NexonThe New Duck of Minerva: Preliminary Details <>

  • Chad BownThe Missing Chips: ‘One of the biggest culprits was a sudden shift in U.S. trade policy. In 2018, motivated by national security concerns, the Trump administration launched a trade and tech war with China that jolted the entire globalized semiconductor supply chain. The fiasco contributed to the current shortages, hurting American businesses and workers. Now, the Biden administration must pick up the pieces. In its first five months, the Biden administration has laid the groundwork… <>

  • Nouriel RoubiniThe Looming Stagflationary Debt Crisis: ‘Years of ultra-loose fiscal and monetary policies have put the global economy on track for a slow-motion train wreck in the coming years. When the crash comes, the stagflation of the 1970s will be combined with the spiraling debt crises of the post–2008 era, leaving major central banks in an impossible position… <>

  • Michael Warren: _Pence Contradicts Trump on January 6, Calling Plan to Decertify 2020 Election “Un-American”… <>

  • Michael Rooney’It’s like Nozick’s third principle of justice, rectification of past improper taking. He’s aware that it implies massive and open-ended redistribution, but quietly buries that detail in one paragraph while going on for 100s of pages with the usual libertarian idealizations… <>

  • Mike KonczalThe Populist Right Will Fail to Help Workers or Outflank the Left: ‘There really “is no unified right-left populist politics” forming out there…. The populist right does not have a real agenda to raise wages outside curtailing immigration, which will fail…. The populist right believes that globalization and immigration are the reasons that the working-class has suffered under neoliberalism…. Full employment and a tight labor market aren’t determined by the number of people in the country… but instead by fiscal and monetary policy, demand and technology… <>


It is not poets but science-fiction writers who are the prophets of our time. As Lois McMaster Bujold said somewhere, just as mysteries are fantasies of justice and romances are fantasies of marriage, so science-fiction novels are fantasies of political agency:

Zachary D. Carter: ‘This happened a couple of weeks ago, but I've been dealing with a nasty cold and too tired to really dig into it. I've been reading Kim Stanley Robinson since I was 11. Seeing him cite my book in this interview with Ezra Klein was really something. The night before my first day of seventh grade, I just couldn't sleep. Around midnight—very late for an almost-seventh-grader!—I picked up a copy of Red Mars and started reading. I finally put it down when my mom came in and told me to get dressed for school. I don't really remember very much of what we learned the first few weeks of seventh grade, but I do remember Red Mars. It's really gratifying to see Robinson expound on this point.  In politics, Keynes lost and lost and lost for almost a quarter of a century. Terrible things happened. And then he was able to take advantage of a tremendous opportunity to create a better world.I mentioned this on the podcast with Noah Smith and Brad DeLong, but I think it's easy to lose sight of the democratic potential that exists in this moment. We are living through a horrific age. The potential for escalating calamity is obvious. But we are simultaneously at a point where the realization of a more just and decent world is more plausible than it has ever been in my lifetime. 

LINK: <>

I fear he is right.

What kind of person wants to talk about inflation risks right now, rather than getting the economy back to full employment as fast as possible, and avoiding risks that recovery stalls out?

Duncan BlackEschaton: Centrist Dipshits: ‘I used to think we talked about whatever conservatives wanted to talk about on any given day.  This is true, but in the post-Trump era in which their messaging apparatus is a bit messed up,  I realize how much this is true only because centrist dipshits want to talk about the same things.… 

LINK: <>

It is too rarely said that Boris Johnson is the dog—not the dog, the rabid chihuahua—who caught the car, tore off the bumper with his teeth, and now has no idea what to do. Boris was supposed to lose the Brexit vote, and in so doing greatly strengthen his position within the conservative party b y this ostentatious fighting for the base and for what the Torygraph, the Daily Mail, and the other eyeball-grifters had convinced them that their interests were. It is still the case, as I heard William Haugh say in 2015, that Britain would be in a much stronger position in the EU, with a powerful voice in discussions in Brussels, and then with a powerful ability to obtain special carveouts from EU rules from Brussels via the threat of Brexit than it has now, having done Brexit, for now it has to accomodate itself to the EU, and it has neither voice in Brussels nor a claim on the EU’s concern:

Martin WolfBoris Johnson’s Brexit Win a Pyrrhic Victory: ‘The realities of relative power mean the UK and EU are—and will remain—far from equals…. Boris Johnson won the referendum on UK membership of the EU just over five years ago, went on to win the leadership of the Conservative party in July 2019, reached a deal with the EU in October and won a decisive victory under the UK’s first-past-the post system in the general election of December. He has re-made his country. But has he remade it for the better or for the worse?… A point that emerged quickly (and to no informed person’s surprise) is that the Brexiters had misunderstood the EU…. As Menon… notes, sardonically: “It was curious that a group of ideological purists expected their interlocutors to be ideologically flexible and pragmatic.” It is clear that hitherto Brexit has strengthened the EU, not weakened it…. Relations will stay poisonous for the indefinite future. It is inevitable, too, that the UK will lose more from this than the EU….. Brexit seem largely a will-o’-the-wisp. It will not increase control, but reduce it where it mattered most to individuals and even to the public at large. Skilful demagogues transmuted the public unhappiness into hostility towards the EU, which was mostly innocent of what people detested, except over migration. UK statistics are very poor on this: the number of EU citizens seeking “settled status” turned out to be 5m by March 2021, vastly more than expected. But, strikingly, inflows of migrants from the rest of the world have now jumped, as those from the EU declined. In the longer run, Brexit is likely to damage the UK, perhaps split it, while strengthening EU solidarity. If so, it will surely be judged a Pyrrhic victory… 

LINK: <>

That cases jumped 50-fold tells us that “breakthrough” infections in mRNA-vaccinated populations do shed virus:

Josh MarshallOur Global Real-World Test of Vaccines and the Delta Variant: ‘"Breakthrough” cases of COVID in Israel… from the Delta variant. I haven’t been able to get clear and definitive information…. Spread in the country all but went to zero. Then the Delta variant arrived. That led cases to go from single digits a day to two or three hundred a day—a big percentage spike but still quite low in absolute terms. This has led to a lot of confusion…. It’s worth remembering that only just over 50% of the overall population in Israel has been vaccinated. So there’s still a lot of improvement that could be made… 

LINK: <>

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