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Sunday, April 12, 2020

Winners and losers from the Wuhan Virus apocalypse

The PRC government, FDA, Sexbots, Nature Magazine, Amazon, and the Bible all get a medal

N ow that the great Wuhan coronavirus pandemic is receding from memory and our recollection of it is soon to be packaged and stored in the vast dusty shelves of forgotten history, we humans can turn our attention to something much more important: sexbots, which are amusing even though they haven't even been invented yet.

You might be thinking, dear reader, that perhaps medical robots might be more important, since many physicians, nurses, and other medical personnel courageously and selflessly stayed on at our hospitals trying to treat patients, sometimes contracting that disease, when they could have just gone to the Hamptons and played golf.

It's just a matter of time before an even worse virus gets loose in the population. If so, robotic physicians will be essential for helping the humans survive that. If we wait until they're needed it will be too late, so maybe it wouldn't hurt to start thinking now about how to manufacture them.

On the other hand, the sexbot industry is gearing up for mass production now, and they look to be pretty darn profitable.

So, sexbots would have been the biggest winners, if only they existed. Here's my list of the biggest losers.

  1. Epidemiologists The biggest losers were epidemiologists, whose models turned out to be almost as unreliable as those made by economists and that Other Quasi-Science That Must Not Be Named. In their defense, most of them did have a little table in the back that said the numbers could have been off by 98%, which turned out to be about right.

    Whatever the final numbers, people will claim that whatever was done worked and the models were therefore correct. Philosophers will debate for years whether this is a tautology or an example of a post hoc ergo propter hoc argument.

  2. Ventilator manufacturers The second biggest losers were the companies that believed there would be a gigantic market for ventilators. Unfortunately, as soon as they ramped up production it turned out that ventilators were actually not useful. It also turned out that the cities once had thousands of ventilators, but had gotten rid of them to save money.

  3. NIH and CDC Universities may regard the National Institutes of Health as a rich uncle, but the NIH and CDC funded almost no clinical studies on small molecule drugs after the SARS and MERS outbreaks, putting all their faith in vaccines. Medical centers were forced to furlough doctors, nurses, and even, in some cases, bureaucrats. And let's not forget those in the press and elsewhere clamoring for more “test kits” so we can find out if we have the virus. Here's a clue: what we really want to know is whether we'll be able to breathe or not.

  4. Economists The MIT economists who claimed[1] the lockdown would flatten the “economic damage curve” with the biggest collection of unconvincing correlations ever published.

  5. Nature magazine Nature gets a prize for apologizing to the world for mentioning that China was the source of the Wuhan coronavirus, which was from Wuhan, which is in China.

  6. The PRC government For threatening to cut off vital health supplies, lying about the transmissibility of the virus, trying to blame it on the US Army, and covering up the fatalities in Wuhan, the Chinese government gets a prize for reminding the world that China is still a communist dictatorship and that the West exports its manufacturing there at its peril.

  7. Amazon Try finding a virology textbook on Amazon's awful search engine sometime. The first three that come up are Flint's Principles of Virology, Lostroh's Molecular and Cellular Biology of Viruses, and Fields Virology Volume 1. Okay, bad example.

  8. The Thou Shall Not Eat list in Leviticus

    And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after his kind, And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle, And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.

    The Bible A few people pointed out that the “thou shall not eat” list in Leviticus 11:19, after listing eagles, ossifrage, osprey, vulture, kite, raven, owl, night hawk, cuckoo, hawk, swan pelican, stork, heron, and lapwings, also mentions THE BAT. Maybe now you listen.

    Notice that owls are in there three times. They really don't want you to eat owls.

  9. Environmentalists For cheering the economic crisis and babbling about the virus being Gaia's punishment for invent­ing technology, environmentalists get a prize for solidifying their image among the public as a bunch of misanthropic loonies.

  10. Local governments and political activists For arresting people for surfing and stopping them from going to church on Easter Sunday. And the political activists: the Democrats and Never-Trumpers who distracted President Trump at a critical time with a phony impeachment trial, ostentatiously tore up his State of the Union address, and politicized the response to the virus instead of trying to help. Now, Trump supporters are all convinced that any criticism of hydroxychloroquine is based on hatred of Trump. Thanks a bunch.

  11. Firefox For popping up a little message like clockwork once an hour asking us to upgrade to a new version that will not only lose our bookmarks again, but might not work at all. Viewers are even considering switching to Edge. Okay, not many, but some. Okay, I made that one up.

  12. 5G conspiracy theorists After 5G opponents blamed the coronavirus on 5G and started burning down antennas in the UK and Europe, even the news media started to notice how nutty they look. They don't even weigh the antennas first to see if they're heavier than a duck.

  13. YouTube and the News Media After censoring so many clips about the virus, YouTube viewers now think if something's banned from YouTube it must be true. The same with the news media: after whipping up hysteria and panic for two months and topping it off with stories about how the virus is racist, people now think if it's in the papers it must be a lie. Next time a virus comes along, many will decide it's just more fake news.

  14. SARS-CoV-2 And the last envelope, the dog that gets the biggest prize, goes to the Wuhan coronavirus itself. Scientists are now thoroughly pissed. After coming back to the lab only to find their cells all dead, their transgenic animals too old, their reagents past their expiration date, and months of irreplaceable research destroyed, they will spend the next ten years search­ing for a drug to stop SARS-type viruses once and for all—even if they have to pay for it themselves.

    In a few years dozens of new drugs will be ready for the FDA to approve. Their IND applications will be sitting on the FDA's desks and Phase 1 clinical trials will be ready to start. By the time the next virus pandemic is over, we'll have a treatment, maybe.

1. http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3561560

apr 12 2020, 7:38 am

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