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Messages - SteveMDFP

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Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: March 02, 2021, 11:32:31 PM »
It's the scientific law called "Farr's Law", still valid today. All pandemics fade away naturally.
Note that Farr's Law was an observation of the natural history of epidemics.   That is, epidemics in which there are no public health measures,  treatments, or vaccines available.  Farr's initial observations were in relation to smallpox, I believe.

Farr's law is inapplicable for diseases where public health measures, therapeutics, or vaccines are available. It has zero applicability to the Covid pandemic.

Similarly, body counts as a percent of susceptible people are also meaningless.  These are deaths happening as public health measures and incrementally improving treatments are being implemented.  One could just as validly state that the ratio reflects the importance and efficacy of strong public health measures.

BBR used to go on about Farr's Law also.  Any relation?

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: March 02, 2021, 03:50:16 PM »

The big picture is all the background in our societies. Shifting demographics, bad food, stripped healthcare , the ever depleted world etc.
But what about the fact that so many people eat little fruit and often quite bad mixes of ready made highly palatable foods? What about the existence of food deserts?
So many people hardly getting exercise not even some leisurely strolling.
Lung damage from before any disease by pollution.

If we make the whole population better we will all be better off but the system is not geared towards that.

This seems to be wishful thinking.  People here keep asserting that a healthy lifestyle is key to reducing risk of a bad outcome with this virus, with little or no evidence. 

We've already covered some of this.  Presence of diabetes in a person approximately doubles risk of a bad outcome.  Not trivial, but that's roughly the level of risk for being 7 - 10  years older.  The available evidence suggests you're better off being a 50 year-old diabetic than a fit, vigorous 60 year old.

It may well be that the risk of death for a person is mostly correlated with density of ACE2 receptors in vital tissues.  That's something none of us can control, or even measure.  It's uncomfortable to think we have limited control over our own risk of death in a pandemic, so many just refuse to believe it.   

Its much more comfortable to believe that our own virtuous decisions protect us.  I've seen zero evidence that a balanced diet, regular exercise, or breathing less-polluted air is of any particular importance.  The belief seems to have as much validity as carrying a lucky rabbit's foot.

Weakness or strength of a virus is a terribly dumb assertion.  Sure, the virus is less virulent than  smallpox or ebola.   But more virulent than influenza or zika. 

Just as important as virulence (the propensity to cause serious illness in the infected) is contagiousness.  On this metric, Covid is very severe indeed.  Thus, it spreads quickly around the world, to a significant percentage of the world's population in just a year.

This is a particularly absurd moment to be decrying shut-downs and restrictions.  We have several highly effective vaccines in mass production and mass administration.  For the immunized, the virus can be seen as less fearsome than influenza. 

What the world should be doing is what most of the world is currently doing -- continue public health measures to limit further spread of Covid and its varieants while vaccinating as many as possible as quickly as possible.

In six months, the "strength" or "weakness" of the virus will be utterly moot.  Much sooner in many nations, a bit later in some poor nations.  We just all need to stay alive and healthy until then,

Anybody heard from Terry lately?

Consequences / Re: Origins of SARS-CoV-2
« on: February 20, 2021, 12:29:23 AM »
The question is, is there going to be review by peers on the recent WHO field study conclusion or should we accept it as is?

why are we so zealous in gatekeeping studies supporting lab origin but we seem to give an easy pass when experts support natural origin, even when it is not through peer-reviewed papers but simple press notes like the recent WHO conclusion (swift conclusion aired only after a week of having a few nice walks in the streets of Wuhan)

This attitude seems reactionary to me, like the classic reaction in favor of the establishment.

To be clear, that's not my attitude.  I'm a bit skeptical of the WHO team's objectivity and thoroughness.  But on the basis of available facts (and the anti-China bias of many), i'm very doubtful of the claim of artificial origin of Covid.

We have a model for the origin and spread of such viruses.  The original SARS seems pretty clearly to have started from a "wet market."  Originating in bats, with civet cats as an intermediate host.  There was no need for bats to have been in that wet market.

And, of course, MERS appears to have originated in bats, then passed to camels as an intermediate host, before passing to humans.

I see no compelling reason to posit a totally different mechanism for the spread of Covid to humans.  Highly similar coronaviruses were obtained from pangolins and bats before this epidemic started.  There seems to be no doubt that the bulk of the early human cases were people who worked at the wet market.

This doesn't exonerate China's leadership, it indicts China's leadership.  Tolerating wet markets, where wild animals are in close proximity with other wild animals and humans, was inexcusable.  Having suffered from the SARS epidemic, there was no rational reason to tolerate the operation of other, similar, wet markets.  Such arrangements are essentially the best possible way to create catastrophic pandemics.  This was apparent before the Covid virus arose.

Absent fairly compelling evidence of an artificial origin, we can have confidence that failure to close wet markets is the underlying cause of this global disaster.

Conversely, the Wuhan Institute of Virology's research was more than appropriate.  Having suffered through the SARS catastrophe, the Institute would have been derelict in its duties if it weren't focusing squarely on coronaviruses in bats that might potentially spread to humans.  Engaging in gain-of-function research was certainly somewhat hazardous, but I don't see that it was clearly unwarranted.  Assessing the potential for coronavirus spread to humans is of obvious importance to preventing the next pandemic.

Consequences / Re: Origins of SARS-CoV-2
« on: February 19, 2021, 09:42:36 PM »
It's not peer-review, it's a study that is pre-print.  It's 100 pages, and this man has an illustrious career and the University of Hamburg has permitted their name to be included on the study.

We should read it because the reputation of university of Hamburg is on the line here.

Last I checked, University of Hamburg has a lot to lose by allowing their name to be used.  So let's try to read through the 100 page study, and see why the University of Hamburg would risk their reputation on "nonsense"?

Incase you missed it, here's the direct link to the pre-print, PDF:

I presume the author is on faculty at U Hamburg.  If so, standards of academic freedom mean that he needed zero authorization from anyone at U Hamburg prior to submitting this to ResearchGate.

Generally, "preprint" means that a paper has been at least submitted to a peer-reviewed journal, and often accepted for publication.  There's no evidence of any journal being involved here.

Yes, it's lengthy, but the bulk of the pages are copies of various letters and articles.

Alas, I can't read German, or I'd give a more detailed critique.  Judging from the English language materials included, I'd say he's quite concerned about gain-of-function research in virology.  Many are; it's quite controversial.  I can't see that he's presented anything new on the matter.

Since you presented this for discussion, perhaps you might see if you can run it through Google translate and present the quasi-translation?

Consequences / Re: Origins of SARS-CoV-2
« on: February 19, 2021, 09:24:19 PM »
University of Hamburg: Laboratory Accident Most Likely Cause of Coronavirus Pandemic

Below is a link to the study:

Peer-reviewed?  What peer-reviewed journal published this "study"?  Citation?

Why should anyone pay  attention to the musings of a nanotechnology expert?  He's not a virologist.  The two fields are unrelated, apart from dealing with small things.

The initial article is from the anonymous Swiss Policy Research web site, which has been more or less debunked here.

Let's not present turds as being nuggets of gold.

The politics / Re: The Collapse Of America
« on: February 17, 2021, 11:41:30 AM »
I remember when your political beliefs  weren’t a reason to tell someone you wouldn’t do business with them, or hire them or let them play with your children.Everyone agreed to disagree and asked what was for dinner. 
And when was this idyllic time?  Must have been before the Red Scare and blacklisting of suspected Communists.  Must also have been before Jim Crow, before the Nativist/anti-immigrant Know-Nothing Party.  For that matter, must have been before Reconstruction.  Before the abolitionist movement.  Before the Revolutionary War, even.

Even in the post WW-II era when the white middle class was relatively politically complacent, awful racism excluded minorities from equal rights to, e.g., housing.  It was only ever a relatively politically quiescent time for white, middle-class, Christian, church-going people, without disabilities or ethnic impurity. 

To me, that was a healthier climate , what the cancel culture is about is imposing their will on people through fear and terror when they can’t win the argument, can’t win the debate.
I thought that America was a better one when nobody asked you who you voted for and where the media took only a slightly Leftist position but actually reported both sides of every event and let the reader or viewer decide for themselves.
Of course, that’s not in the Leftist playbook , there are so many of their positions that they can’t justify with common sense or win a debate with that demand to set the topic and don’t allow anyone’s else’s opinion to be heard and when it’s heard, the speaker MUST be punished.
It’s sort of how the Brown Shirts started against the Jews in Germany.
First make up half truths, Content without context as I call it, then demonize, ban and bar and then eventually dehumanize.
yes, I guess when you control thought through fear and manipulation , you can win  but I wonder if it’s Something  to be really proud about, especially, when in the end, the left has always eaten its own.

It is dumbfounding that anyone could characterize this as "the Leftist playbook."  Banning and barring comes at least as much from the Right.  Colin Kaepernick takes a visible stand against police brutality, and he loses his career.  Every year, the Right bemoans a "war on Christmas" and announces boycotts of businesses that dare to try to be inclusive of non-Christians.  Prominent  Republicans take a stand against insurrection, and state parties denounce them and demand their resignation.

Boycotts and the like are an inevitable manifestation of a politically engaged populace.  When thoughtfully done, this is an instrument for positive social change.  Thoughtlessness and narrow-mindedness in such actions is predominantly a phenomenon of the Right.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: February 17, 2021, 10:51:46 AM »
Here is some information from a relevant case study in Israel.
In one of the top hospitals, in the pathology dept some employees tested positive, and as a result it was decided to screen all employees by PCR, and consequently 12 more were found to be unknowingly positive, of which 7 were already fully vaccinated (i.e. at least 7 days after 2nd Pfizer dose) at the time of acquiring the virus. All 7 had the UK variant and were either totally asymptomatic or very lightly symptomatic. ...

Source?  This is important information, worth digging into.

Policy and solutions / Re: Electric cars
« on: February 06, 2021, 05:41:44 PM »
not electric, but a cool hydrogen concept. Room temp and unpressurized storage as a paste, made w magnesium

Came to post the article below before I saw yours....  Agree yours is a cool concept — but the energy wasted in manufacturing the paste, added to the inefficiency of fuel cells... makes it little more than a cool concept.

I'm not sure I'd agree.  This permits hydrogen energy to be stored and utilized at an energy density comparable to gasoline.  Though this likely has no role for stationary energy storage, it could work well for mobile uses.  Long-haul trucking, and anywhere diesel is hard to avoid, including agricultural machinery and mining, and ocean shipping.  It could well be the fuel of choice for electric airplanes. 

Energy inefficiencies could be partially outweighed by running the hydrolytic production of hydrogen at times of excess renewable energy production to the grid.  That energy is often free or cheaper than free.

Or, potentially a solution to how Australia could apply its solar energy abundance to provide power to Singapore.  Fill up tankers with PowerPaste.

The utility of this kind of technology goes far beyond electric vehicles.  I'd recommend starting a new thread entirely, maybe "The Hydrogen Economy"

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: January 31, 2021, 01:09:52 PM »

The new deep coking coal mine was agreed by Cumbria County Council and the government previously said it did not want to intervene.

I don't disagree with the gist of this post, but I might point out a bit of nuance.  The "coking" implies the intended use is for metallurgical purposes (steel making, mostly) rather than the production of heat/electricity.

With current technology, coke is absolutely essential for steel-making.  We can only reduce the use of coke by reducing steel production.  Unless our climate goals include reduced steel production, then somebody will need to produce the coke.  I don't see that it's better for the coke to come from inside the UK than outside the UK.

Theoretically, it's possible to use hydrogen gas as a reducing agent, rather than carbon from coke.  The whole process would likely need to be carried out in the complete absence of oxygen.  Hydrogen gas heated up to 1000 degrees C (or whatever the temp is) is going to be exceedingly hazardous.

The politics / Re: Biden’s Presidency
« on: January 22, 2021, 04:49:06 PM »
Biden is perfectly free to advocate his views. But since they contradicy Catholic doctrine he should not call himself Catholic. If you don't believe what the Church teaches, just be honest and leave the Church! That's perfectly legal.
Not at all.  There is no contradiction with any religion to expect government to be secular.  No need to deprive, e.g., transgender people of their rights, or deny women their reproductive rights, just because some religions would see their conduct as "sinful."  A secular government is the best way to protect religious freedom of individuals.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: January 22, 2021, 02:43:29 PM »
SARS-CoV-2 Escape In Vitro from a Highly Neutralizing COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma

Three mutations allowed SARS-CoV-2 to evade the polyclonal antibody response of a highly neutralizing COVID-19 convalescent plasma.


To investigate the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 in the immune population, we co-incubated authentic virus with a highly neutralizing plasma from a COVID-19 convalescent patient. The plasma fully neutralized the virus for 7 passages, but after 45 days, the deletion of F140 in the spike N-terminal domain (NTD) N3 loop led to partial breakthrough. At day 73, an E484K substitution in the receptor-binding domain (RBD) occurred, followed at day 80 by an insertion in the NTD N5 loop containing a new glycan sequon, which generated a variant completely resistant to plasma neutralization. Computational modeling predicts that the deletion and insertion in loops N3 and N5 prevent binding of neutralizing antibodies.

The recent emergence in the United Kingdom and South Africa of natural variants with similar changes suggests that SARS-CoV-2 has the potential to escape an effective immune response and that vaccines and antibodies able to control emerging variants should be developed.

Thanks for posting this, Vox.  The findings are important and disturbing, but not surprising.  After repeated passage in cell culture, with incubation with highly-potent immune serum, the virus acquires resistance to the antibodies present.   The acquired mutations confer resistance to some but not all sera from other recovered individuals.

Study of the acquired mutations might give us an early look at mutations that may develop in the wild.  This could give a heard start on developing the next generation of mRNA vaccines, which would probably be multi-valent, to cover more mutant strains as well as the original.

We should note that this is very much "gain of function" research.  Dangerous?  Quite possibly, if the mutant strain escapes the lab.  Worth taking the risk?  I'm inclined to think so, assuming solid lab containment protocols.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: January 19, 2021, 03:20:10 PM »
Another New Covid-19 Variant Discovered In L.A. May Be Vaccine Resistant

An article on says L452R has “decreased sensitivity to neutralizing mAbs (monoclonal antibodies),” which are used in the currently-approved vaccines to inhibit connections between the spike proteins of the virus and infected cells.

Chiu said very early studies of the L452R spike protein mutation indicate it’s less susceptible to those neutralizing antibodies in the vaccines.

The article in Cell looks good to me.  The synopsis in is dreadful.  The study in Cell did not examine vaccines, nor antibodies produced in response to vaccines.  Vaccines do not contain antibodies.  Nothing in the article directly addresses whether any variant of the virus is more or less likely to be inhibited by any vaccine.

The study did use convalescent serum from 10 recovering individuals.  Various strains showed modest increased or decreased inhibition by the various serum specimens.  There's not much here of particular note for us.

The journalistic drive to produce clickbait strikes again.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: January 18, 2021, 05:41:18 PM »
TWiV 708  (the week in virology)
Thank you very much for providing this synopsis.  This is a smart group of virologists, but they are lousy YouTbue hosts.  One has to sit through an hour to get a few nuggets of important information.


Policy and solutions / Re: Tesla glory/failure
« on: January 17, 2021, 06:07:10 PM »
Why has Tesla lowered the price of their cars numerous times if the market is supply constrained? Neil et al.? Can you please answer this simple question.......

There are a few reasons why a producer might sell at a price below that which maximizes profit.

The most common reason is probably to maintain market share.

If you can get a given Tesla for $40,000 but have to wait 3 months, or get a comparable non-Tesla for $80k, most people will wait the 3 months.

Such pricing can also be used to drive competitors out of business, if one has deep pockets.  That's supposed to be illegal, of course.

Such less-profitable pricing is, in effect, an investment in future profits.

Hedges on Dore:

"We should have walked out on the Democratic party in 1994 after NAFTA and stood by the working class. And we didn't. And they know it."

"the bank is boarded up ... church caught on fire and burned ... just charred embers ... methamphetamine labs ... that's what we've done, that's what the democratic party has done, and the self identified liberal class has done and that's why they hate us and frankly we deserve to be hated"

NAFTA is a convenient whipping boy for America's ills, but I don't think economic analyses really support the blame. 

NAFTA’s Impact on the U.S. Economy: What Are the Facts?

"Two decades ago, when NAFTA was born, China had only a faint presence in the global economy, and was not yet even a member of the World Trade Organization. However, the share of U.S. spending on Chinese goods rose nearly eight-fold between 1991 and 2007. By 2015, U.S. trade in goods and services with China totaled $659 billion— with the U.S. importing $336 billion more than it exported. China has become the U.S.’s top trading partner for goods — a development never anticipated at the signing of NAFTA. And yet, NAFTA continues to attract the lion’s share of the blame among U.S. critics of globalization, despite the fact that the U.S. and China have yet to sign any bilateral free-trade treaty.

"The long-run increase in manufacturing employment in Mexico (about 400,000 jobs) was small and disappointing, while U.S. manufacturing plummeted by 5 million — but more because of Chinese imports than imports from Mexico. In both Mexico and the United States, real wages have stagnated while productivity has continued to increase, leading to higher profit shares and a tendency toward greater inequality.”

"The long-run increase in manufacturing employment in Mexico (about 400,000 jobs) was small and disappointing, while U.S. manufacturing plummeted by 5 million — but more because of Chinese imports than imports from Mexico."

I think NAFTA had little influence on the problems of the rust belt.  Far more blame belongs with changes in tax policy.  Lowering taxes on the wealthy has starved the nation of public investments, while directly exacerbating wealth and income inequality.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: January 13, 2021, 09:58:44 PM »
Of course there's absolutely no way to know if these "vaccines" help against the mutations.

They'll have to do all new studies on each of these mutations to actually be able to make that statement.

That doesn't stop them from lying, however.  The truth is they have absolutely no idea if the "vaccine" would have any effectiveness against anything beyond what it was tested on and analyzed on.
None of this is true.  Nobody would run a big clinical trial to measure effectiveness of a vaccine against a specific mutation.
Instead, virus inactivation assays are run.  These involve incubating live virus (original and mutant) with serum from fully vaccinated (and non-vaccinated) people.  If the vaccinated serum inactivates mutant virus as effectively as it inactivates the original strain, then this is quite strong evidence that the vaccine remains effective.

No, it's not absolute proof, it's just a persuasive indicator.  We'll know more definitively as vaccine failures accumulate.  The particular strains/variants responsible for these vaccine failures will be studied carefully.

We should not be surprised if some variant arises that is resistant to antibodies produced by the vaccines.  This will indicate the need for multi-valent vaccines, as we use for other infections.

The politics / Re: The Alt Right
« on: January 13, 2021, 04:15:14 PM »
Canadian here, we're not going to send troops into your nation.    This is something you guys need to fix.  Preferably without too much bloodshed.    If the violence escalates it'll grow into a civil war, no sane nation gets involved in another nation's civil war.    Sorry.

As far as the Alt-Right is concerned, I think the laws need to be enforced strictly.    They're far more dangerous, at this time, than any leftist group on this f'n planet.   Hell, they just attempted a coup d'etat in the USA, how much more of a threat do they have to prove themselves to be?


Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: January 13, 2021, 03:03:26 PM »
This is pretty stable between 1,5-1,8. And I am sure the R could not have been much lower in previous centuries (as that would have made the R too low for it to meaningfully spread). So influenza likely has a very low R for a very long time.

Everyone said upthread that covid will select for higher R because that is what always happens with contagious diseases (less deadly, spreads quicker). This does not seem to be the case for the flu despite being around for centuries!

An R value of 1.5 - 1.8 is not "very low."  It's quite high, when you consider exponential growth.  Probably about 5 days from time of infection to time of spread to another.

From the virus' perspective, a higher R value could mean that a given village all comes down with the flu, everyone goes to bed and recovers, and the virus never gets to spread to the next village.  It wants to circulate in a community for a longer time, for more opportunities to spread to the next community.

Covid is contagious for longer for an individual, so a higher R does not have this disadvantage.  As long as people can be contagious for more than a week, then the higher the better.  All the better if some people are asymptomatic.  Those people will travel rather than take to their beds.  This virus functions extremely well for producing the problems it has.  A tough nut to crack.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: January 13, 2021, 12:27:39 AM »

The virus is under selective pressure to become more contagious

I've been thinking about this for a while. How come the R of the flu has not changed in hundreds of years (= did not become more contagious) despite being more prone to mutations???

I strongly doubt that influenza has a constant R value.  We have severe and less severe seasonal epidemics.  Because of the potential for large genetic shifts in some years, some strains can be more contagious than those in other years.   Something like 20% of the world's population gets infected with influenza in a given year.  Over a few years, substantial herd immunity develops to a dominant strain.  Then a strain with genetic shift picks up the baton.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: January 12, 2021, 02:28:19 PM »
  and now the virus had had long enough in circulation to pick up a dozen mutations, combinations which increase infectivity start to appear all over the place.

Yet another indicator that vaccines need to be used to wipe it out, not to palliate recurring epidemics like is done with flu.

The virus is under selective pressure to become more contagious, and to become resistant to monoclonal antibodies.  The current vaccines generate antibodies to a small part of the virus--the spike protein. So there's now emerging evolutionary pressure to alter these proteins.

None of this should be surprising, though certainly worrisome.  The current vaccines will likely prove helpful, but insufficient in the long run.  We'll need frequently-updated, multivalent vaccines, and combination anti-viral treatments, both.  Surveillance for arising mutations is going to be a long-term challenge.

When a virus becomes widespread, probability of acquiring adaptive mutations increases as the number of infected persons increases.  Had the world acted more aggressively from the beginning, we would likely not be seeing a proliferation of problematic mutations.  That cat is out of the bag, however.

The politics / Re: Biden’s Presidency
« on: January 06, 2021, 09:09:51 PM »
we need a democracy for Biden to become president .. there may not be one readily available .

If Congress is unable to certify the electors' votes, Trump still ends his term at noon on Jan 20.  In this scenario, the Speaker of the House is the Constitutional President. 

Of course, the current President might declare a suspension of the Constitution, which he does not have the authority to do.

The politics / Re: Biden’s Presidency
« on: January 06, 2021, 04:51:27 PM »
Progressive representatives (Squad, Justice Dems,...) now have the golden opportunity to exert a positive influence toward the Left reaching up to the President, at least for the next two years.
With much less obstacle in the Senate, and a small margin in favor of Dems in Congress, their votes have never been so important. Will they use them for the People as they claim? Will they make the Dems as uncomfortable as AOC claims?

I think this is not plausible.  The Democratic party has a number of "blue dogs," who are much more conservative than most Democrats.  These handful, voting alongside Republicans, wield a functional veto against notably progressive legislation.  There is no way around this obstacle to legislation for the next 2 (and likely 4) years. 

Reinstating the practice of earmarks may alleviate this obstacle to a modest degree.  That strategy comes with its own downsides.

Consequences / Re: Origins of COVID-19
« on: January 06, 2021, 03:51:29 PM »

That video is just another example of how easy it is to produce total rubbish that requires an awful lot of explaining to refute each and every thing being said. It is a common tactic that politicians do to distract from that main point..... just ask the person telling the truth 1001 questions that need a heap of explaining to refute until they give up.

Indeed.  A term for this, which I learned on this forum, is a "gish gallop."  A rapid sequence of lies, mininformation, and out-of-context facts which individually take a prohibitive amount of time to rebut.  It's a common tactic by professional climate deniers.  it can also be used by conspiracy theorists and professional pundits. 

The rest / Re: Archaeology/Paleontology news
« on: January 06, 2021, 02:19:32 AM »
British Bird-Watcher Discovers Trove of 2,000-Year-Old Celtic Coins
The cache dates to the time of warrior queen Boudica’s revolt against the Romans

A brief history of Boudica;

Boudica: The Truth Behind the Legend

Consequences / Re: Origins of COVID-19
« on: January 06, 2021, 02:05:47 AM »
Gain of function:

None of this describes gain of function research.  Try again.


Not sure where you are getting your information on hunger, but the U.S. ranks up with most other first world countries.

Regarding food insecurity, the U.S. fares even better, ranked 3rd in the world, behind only Singapore and Ireland (Australia is ranked 21th.

Unemployment in the U.S. is comparable to other first world countries.  Lower than either Australia or the EU (even if you exclude the high unemployment countries of Greece, Spain,  Italy, Scandinavia, and the Baltic states).

Healthcare coverage has risen, not fallen over the past decades

This thread is for Covid consequences.  Your references appear to be pre-pandemic.  E.g., for WFP, "Prevalence of undernourishment in the total population (percent) in 2017-19"

We don't have good statistics for current food insecurity yet.  But at some point, you have to give some credence to the current tsunami of anecdotes about, e.g., food lines stretching for miles.

Regardless of how much credence you give to such reports, pre-pandemic statistics are irrelevant to this thread.

Sorry, my origin response was in error.  I meant to say low density, which was an obvious mistake.  I think you will agree that Australia has a low population density compared to Europe. 

Australia's population is concentrated on the coast, and further concentrated in its coastal cities.  it has rather high population density in terms of how people live.
I read all the links, the problem is the lockdown and the hardships that it has enacted on the people.  This seems rather consistent in the first world countries around the globe, but a bigger hardship on the poorer nations.  Still, the U.S. and Australia appear to be on similar tracks and far ahead of Europe in the rebound.  Whether this continues this year, I cannot say.

In terms of GDP, this may be accurate.  GDP is supported in the US by massive fiscal deficits combined with large asset purchases by the Federal Reserve.  However, GDP is a poor measure of the performance of an economy from the perspective of the people. The US has appalling rates of food insecurity, outright hunger, a looming eviction tsunami, high unemployment, falling employment participation, and falling health care coverage.  Suffering is massive, and not at all like Australia.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: January 03, 2021, 07:52:58 PM »
SARS-CoV-2 Escape in Vitro from a Highly Neutralizing COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma
Summary: Three mutations allowed SARS-CoV-2 to evade the polyclonal antibody response of a highly neutralizing COVID-19 convalescent plasma.

This is quite concerning, though not surprising.  Covid may have an intrinsically low rate of mutation, but when there are a million people infected, each a prodigious virus factory, the opportunities for mutations are multiplied a million-fold.

I think we'll shortly be in need of multi-valent vaccines.  And monoclonal antibodies or immune plasma or antiviral medications may need to be tested against the unknown strain that a given patient presents with.

If so, we may collectively be in for a very long haul with this pathogen.

The rest / Re: R's sudden, 100% insincere 'concern' about US debt
« on: January 01, 2021, 03:36:36 PM »
I have this feeling that what can't go on won't go on. But when will the US hit the wall? How can we have $25,000,000,000,000.00 plus debt and 100,000,000,000,000.00 plus unfunded liabilities and still go on? Will we hit a quadrillion? A quintillion? A decillion? A centillion? Will the Fall be in 2021 or 2525?

A consideration of Modern Monetary Theory may illuminate such questions.

1.)  One person's debt is always another person's asset.  That 25 trillion debt by the government matches 25 trillion in assets (i.e. wealth) held by individuals.  We consider the government debt to be "bad" but the wealth held by people to be "good."  So is the situation a net bad thing or a net good thing?  It depends on the details.

2.) As a corollary to #1, when the government (public sector) runs a deficit, the private sector runs a surplus.  That's math.  One is good, the other bad, but they're inextricably tied to each other.

3.) The "unfunded liability" assertions about Social Security is mathematical sophistry and scaremongering.  It's not at all unfunded, as long as you consider it a safe assumption that we will continue to have a functioning economy where social security taxes will continue to be collected.  The projected costs are just as much assumptions as the projected revenue.  It's entirely possible, we've learned, for a substantial fraction of retirees to meet an early demise.

The sophistry goes beyond this.  A century ago, a working person might support a household with numerous non-working people.  I.e., a spouse, several children, a grandparent or two.  The ratio of working people to people being supported was far smaller in the past.  It's only the current structure of the Social Security system that needs to be tweaked.  The "crisis" of the "trust fund" can be resolved in an instant, by considering payments to be obligations of the general Treasury fund, and revenue to be deposits to the general fund.  Others would prefer a different tweak.  It is overall, a non-issue.

Overall, consider that Japan's debt to GDP ratio is far higher than the US.  Yet, it's still regarded as a solid economy, with it's currency also considered by investors to be a high-quality asset.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: December 28, 2020, 01:20:05 PM »

The cynic in me says they could push vaccines through that are less than ideal.
But I wont deny that there is a lingering doubt in the back of my mind.
I can understand this.  Certainly, the FDA was under intense pressure to approve the vaccines.  It's not crazy to think that a seriously flawed vaccine could have been approved.

But I have some knowledge of the pretty exacting standards of independent review and procedures for clinical research.  Though it would be vastly preferable for all the proprietary research data to be made public immediately.  Still, when smart, reliable people like Fauci roll up their sleeves, I think that's an additional factor in judging the balance of risk/benefit.

If I were 20 years old and very low risk, I might rationally decline the vaccine.  As my personal risk is easily 100 times greater than that of a 20 year-old, I will have zero hesitation.

In the case of this peculiarly-acting virus, I think it's plausible that the mRNA vaccines could provide immunity superior to natural infection.  We won't know that for probably a couple of years.

Walking the walk / Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« on: December 28, 2020, 01:02:15 PM »
Carbon (and other pollution) tax and dividend to all, best solution. Why are there no "good populists" touting thus? It could easily have popular support.

Totally agree.  And it should (eventually) include the embedded emissions in food, especially beef.  But for public acceptance, only the direct emitters from fossil fuels perhaps should be included, perhaps.

I think people generally mistrust that the taxes/fees collected will actually be rebated to the people.  I think it's worth the investment to distribute the first year's expected revenue to be rebated *before* the fees are collected.  When people see the checks, that will likely convince most that it's legitimate.

Government, Not Coronavirus, Is Killing Small Businesses
[link deleted in the public interest]
By slowing down the development of herd immunity among the population, the lockdowns could put those truly at risk in greater danger. Lockdowns have also had negative effects such as increases in drug and alcohol abuse and increases in domestic violence. Meanwhile, many schoolchildren are deprived of the opportunity to interact with their teachers and their peers. Instead, these children are subjected to the fraud of “virtual learning.”

Tom, please don't disseminate such disinformation.  Promoting "herd immunity" by allowing infections to spread has been thoroughly de-bunked.  It's clearly a prescription for death, disability, overwhelmed medical systems, *and* economic disaster.

This is especially true now, when several vaccines are rapidly being distributed and administered.   We're a few months away from this pandemic coming under control with a herd immunity derived from vaccination.  There is no justification for promoting "herd immunity" by letting the infection run wild.

I find it rather bizarre that people who have previously championed home-schooling are now such vocal critics of virtual schooling.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: December 22, 2020, 04:25:21 PM »
Status quo believers as usual busy downplaying news about the new Covid variant. Such hubris should be shamed out of existence by society.


Update: Dr. Anthony Fauci says Americans should assume a new, more contagious strain of Coronavirus is already in the US

I am quite surprised by the dismissive attitude of Vincent Racaniello of TWiV (the podcast This Week in Virology). He has a series of tweets about the "uninformed" New York Times at

And now there is this video where he blasts the NERVTAG minutes:

What I know is that the ECDC is worried too. One or two virology professors that shout about "completely baseless hype" etc won't take such worries away.

The TWIV episode in which this is discussed by the group is at 55 minutes in at:
TWiV 696: Tear down that SARS-CoV-2 manuscript

In this section, these scientists and clinicians are thinking and speaking as scientists and clinicians.  Assertions that are not strongly supported by good science are garbage to them.  This isn't surprising or disturbing.

But they're not thinking or speaking as public health professionals.  I'm confident that they  may be correct in asserting that the increasing prevalence may most likely be explained by a handful of superspreader events that happened (randomly) with the recently-identified variant.

However, they do acknowledge that the increasing prevalence of this variant is also consistent with increased transmissibility being the cause.  It's going to take some time for researchers to determine whether there's evidence of biologically enhanced transmissibility of this variant.

To a public health professional, scientifically proving assertions is not the point.  As long as there's a reasonable probability that the increased prevalence is due to increased transmissibility, then stronger public health measures are appropriate, while scientists duke it out over interpretation of data.

Personally, I'm a bit more concerned about the South Africa new variant.  There's suspicion of both increased transmissibility and increased virulence in younger people.  These seem to be rough impressions from doctors on the ground, so need to be taken with a grain of salt.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: December 20, 2020, 06:34:02 PM »
Here’s what you need to know about the new coronavirus variant, now confirmed in SA

A new variant of the coronavirus has been detected in South Africa, health minister Zweli Mkhize announced on Friday.

The variant was identified by South African genomics scientists from across the country, led by the Kwazulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP). They have been analysing coronavirus genetic samples from different parts of South Africa since the start of the pandemic, and in recent weeks these samples were dominated by a new variant. 

Mkhize said the new variant is believed to be driving South Africa’s second coronavirus wave.

South African authorities believe the new variant spread from Nelson Mandela Bay through the Eastern Cape, to the Garden Route, and into KwaZulu-Natal.

The new lineage, named 501.V2, has between 10 and 20 new mutations not seen in the coronavirus tested in South Africa before end-September.

The South African variant appears to be spreading more quickly, with higher viral loads than the original virus.

Thanks for this.   Found another article from South Africa:

Second wave driven by new Covid-19 mutation that affects younger people

"Cape Town - The new Covid-19 variant spreading across the country is more contagious and appears to affect young people more than the previous strain and authorities warn additional restrictions may be necessary.

The Health Department has confirmed that the mutated strain, known as SARS-CoV-2 or termed 501.v2 variant has “been identified in almost 200 samples“ collected from 50 different hospitals and clinics in the Western and Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

On Friday night, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced that researchers had discovered a new mutation to the virus – similar to one found in Britain this week – that he said seemed to affect young people more than strains that had previously been circulating..."

Covid seems to have a lower intrinsic tendency to mutate than, say, influenza virus.  But this emergence of two distinct mutations in different nations that both confer increased transmissibiliy  shouldn't be surprising.  While the virus itself may be slow to mutate, each individual person infected is another opportunity for new mutations to develop.  When case counts are high, mutation rates will also increase.

If the world had started with a competent response to the virus, these more dangerous mutations would likely never have arisen.  This makes me very angry.

We can only hope that strains will not evolve to resist the antibodies generated by the vaccines.  I'm not optimistic on that.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: December 18, 2020, 03:44:55 PM »
One Little Problem with the "All-Electric" Auto Fleet: What Do We Do with all the "Waste" Gasoline?
Petroleum is now an unstable system and for all the reasons outlined above it cannot be restored to stability: just as time is a one-way arrow, so is the loss of stability.
What can we expect? Unstable systems are prone to wild swings to extremes and unpredictable collapses. So we may see collapses in the price of oil as we saw in March, and then rapid ascents in price above $100/barrel, which then crash once demand declines.
This unpredictability complicates projections and generates uncertainty. This is the final paradox (#4): the unpredictability of oil markets is itself a destabilizing force. Decisions on future production and consumption cannot be long-term, and this constrains investment in future production.
Regardless of what happens with vaccines and Covid-19, debt and energy--inextricably bound as debt funds consumption-- will destabilize the global economy in a self-reinforcing feedback.

I think this is all part of the Peak Oil/Chicken Little/The Sky is Falling nonsense.  Good click-bait.  He's making his living off of offering dire predictions.

Petroleum has always had volatile pricing.  Transient gluts and shortages of an inelastic commodity do that.  Nothing here becomes any more intrinsically unstable due to a predictable decline in demand for petroleum.

There are lower-cost sources of petroleum, and higher-cost sources.  If market prices decline, the higher-cost sources shut down.  This corrects over-supply.  Increases in price accomplish the reverse.  Price instability is a short-term phenomenon (because of time delays in ramping production up or down). 

There's actually nothing here to merit the click-baity language he uses.

The politics / Re: Biden’s Presidency
« on: December 15, 2020, 11:09:07 PM »
Why would Bidon pardon Trump for something he does not believe he has done?

I don't think Biden would or should do so.  Maybe Pence will take office for a week so a pardon for Trump could be done.

I think putting Trump in prison for a range of crimes (including trying to induce legislators to overturn election results) would create severe, dangerous unrest.  Also, any judge sentencing Trump to prison would be either terribly naive or brave--assassination of the judge would seem probable to me.

One better approach might be for Biden to issue a conditional pardon.  That is, if Trump gives a full confession in a "truth and reconciliation" manner, he'd be pardoned of all confessed crimes, but only those crimes he confessed to.  This might deflate the cult of personality in the country, while avoiding unrest.

The politics / Re: Elections 2020 USA
« on: December 09, 2020, 04:41:53 PM »
OK, people, this guy has trapped me with clickbait before, and I don't know if this is more of the same. The column has links to legal stuff that I am not competent to evaluate, so I would like to know if this is more delusional stuff like American Thinker is still posting, or if there is an actual chance that this is on the level:

The Texas Lawsuit Is On The Docket – The Supreme Court Will Determine The Fate Of The 2020 Election

The Supreme Court can provide surprises, but I don't think it's plausible that the Texas AG case will go anywhere.  At the level of constitutional law, the states are free to select electors as they see fit.  Texas has no standing to claim an injury because of how another state selected its electors.

If the executive branches of the defendant states failed to follow their own laws, the proper venue to adjudicate that matter would be in the state courts of the defendant states.  Even demonstrating significant deficiencies in the states' procedures shouldn't result in the draconian "remedy" of disenfranchising millions of voters who followed instructions in good faith.  This is especially true in the context of a declared national emergency that necessitated modifications to preserve public health.

Another issue with the suit is that it was not filed in a timely matter.  Waiting until after these states had counted and certified the votes is not acting in good faith.  The time to file was when these altered procedures were put into place, not when the results are found to be not to the liking of the Texas AG.

My own interpretation is that the Supreme Court took the case to explicitly smack down such shenanigans and abuse of the judicial process.

I also interpret the Texas AG's actions as not to alter the election results, but to curry favor with Trump, who might issue a pardon for the AG, who is facing Federal indictments.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: December 07, 2020, 03:10:05 AM »

He plays things down.
He talks about things being better with an effective vaccine.... while vaccines are happening, effectiveness i relatively unknown and the time lines involved in getting it done globally is multi year if not undoable.

Secondly, he compares the CDC estimate of there being 8 times more cases (which is good news) to his 10 times estimate and then prefers to stick to his crude estimated rather than the CDC estimate. I am extremely sure the CDC is more accurate than he is yet he keeps to his ten times estimate anyway.... way to take on new information that is against your old thinking.

Thirdly, he compares death rates to the flu death rate.
When will this stop?
I wont get into the percentage differences much (he predicts 0.2% death for Covid and 0.1% for flu (which is a bad year, not a normal year) but ignores the part where there are multiple degrees more cases than the flu.
A higher death rate with significantly more cases means bigger problems.
Covid is becoming the leading cause of death in the US, hardly flu like numbers.
Anyway, I stopped watching at that point because he has too many flaws in his logic.... truly sad

Fourthly, another problem with his analysis.  He seems to defend the idea of sequestering the high-risk people, while allowing low-risk to go about their business.  Makes perfect logical sense, but only if you don't recognize how society actually functions. 

I don't believe any any society, any city or country, has ever successfully segregated vulnerable members of a population from any infectious disease outbreak, ever in the history of civilization.  Some individuals manage to do this on their own, but the numbers who can and do are nothing like the numbers needed to have a real impact on a pandemic.

About the closest I can think of is that during the Black Death, wealthy individuals were able to run to the countryside to live nearly alone until the epidemic passed.  Hardly a successful example for our times.

The world has bona fide experts in pandemic response.   There's a reason that virtually none have recommended sequestering only high-risk individuals as a strategy.  It's utterly unworkable.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: December 06, 2020, 08:19:28 PM »
Germany is getting deeper into trouble.

RT is a terrible source for information.  I looked up the German language source for most of this article.  Where RT "quotes" the source as saying the referral hospitals are "packed to the brim," the Google Translate version of the source says ""these are now approaching the limit themselves in some regions  'We can still accept patients from the smaller hospitals. But we have to stretch ourselves a lot, especially since we want to continue to take care of other patients...' " See:
Germany's clinics are threatened with overload  [gTrans]

Even worse than the Putin-pleasing bias of RT is the reader comments.  Here, virtually all the comments reflect absurd paranoia, conspiracy theories, and extraordinary misinformation.

I would recommend that RT be banned as a source on this forum.  We shouldn't give additional publicity to such rank disinformation.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: December 05, 2020, 10:31:32 PM »
WaPo headling (sorry, paywall prevents me from presenting more):

The coronavirus has come roaring back into Brazil, shattering illusions it wouldn’t

Sick people are being found dead at home and long lines are forming for intensive care beds. But the streets and beaches remain full of unmasked people who are either unaware or unbothered by the alarming health warnings

So it is not wise to depend on summer and its added vitamin D alone to protect you from covid, I guess...
It's a notable article.  Some passages:

In Rio de Janeiro, where the virus has already killed tens of thousands, upturned the economy and sent rates of homelessness soaring, moments that recall the darkest days of the pandemic are once more appearing in the news.

Sick people, unable to get help in the medical system, are again being found dead at home. Lines stretching into the hundreds are forming for intensive care beds. Hospital officials are warning of supply shortages and an imminent collapse in medical services.
Even the vaunted private heath-care system reached 98 percent capacity in its intensive care units this past week, officials said.
In May, during the worst weeks of the first wave, city life was vastly constrained. Even if Rio never fully locked down, shops and restaurants closed, people worked from home and several field hospitals were opened.

This time is different. There is neither talk of field hospitals, nor restrictions on businesses. The streets and beaches remain full of unmasked people who are either unaware or unbothered by the alarming health warnings.
On Friday, Castro and Rio Mayor Marcelo Crivella announced the opening of more hospital beds and that city schools would halt classes. But health officials across the country are warning that such minor restrictions almost certainly won’t be enough.

The most powerful weapon against the coronavirus — fear — has dulled. Many people either simply don’t care or no longer believe in the dangers posed by the virus.

“We’re facing a campaign of disinformation and denial,” said Suzana Lobo, president of the Brazilian Association of Intensive Medicine. “The impact in January will be very, very large. Our fear is that in January and February, the health system won’t be able to bear it.”

In a fiercely individualistic society, where people have little trust in either government or each other, the pandemic has, from the beginning, been a mass social experiment in the limits of scientific persuasion. But now, public health officials are increasingly worried that their warnings don’t matter."

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: December 03, 2020, 03:11:28 PM »
Given the cost in life and money of a disease like covid 19, I believe it to be completely ethical to carry out a controlled exposure trial for these vaccines. I find it downright anti-ethical that it has not to been done (publicly) yet.

What is the ethical argument for the hold-up?

Researchers generally consider it unethical to kill volunteers.


Arctic background / Re: Nunavut Gold & Diamond Mine
« on: November 29, 2020, 08:57:08 PM »

TORONTO -- A group of Canadian researchers, who discovered diamonds in a small rock sample found in an unrealized gold deposit in Nunavut, say their findings hint at the possibility of new deposits in the area that are similar to the world's richest gold mine.

Damn.  Why do we have to find such valuable resources in such ecologically fragile areas?  Damn.

The politics / Re: The Trump Presidency
« on: November 26, 2020, 04:27:52 PM »
I think there would be a slight technical hiccup since Trump has not actually been convicted of anything there is nothing to pardon.

I don't think so.  Nixon was pardoned by Ford without having been convicted of anything.  All the criminal investigations stopped, because they'd been made moot for criminal justice purposes.  He was pardoned of all crimes that he may have committed.

It's commonly stated that "acceptance" of a pardon is a confession of guilt.  I think this is wrong. A pardon is effectively an instruction to federal criminal justice personnel.  I don't think the "pardonee" needs to admit anything, nor sign an acceptance.  Nixon denied having committed a crime (see his David Frost interview).  This stance did not invalidate his pardon.

The forum / Re: Forum Decorum
« on: November 14, 2020, 07:49:49 PM »
Gandul - feel free to call me silly names as long as you don't disrupt the forum I am tasked with moderating (the Cryosphere section).

I would beg you to be less stoic, Oren.  Permitting gross incivility to remain anywhere on the site presents an example to some of what will be considered acceptable.  And a needless warning to others about what they may be subjected to.

It's a bit like magnanimously allowing weeds free reign over a square foot of your garden.  Or tolerating just one crack house on your block to flourish.

Human communities are fragile things.  Like a garden, they must be tended to thoughtfully, or they will perish.

Passenger Aboard First Cruise Ship to Return to Sailing in Caribbean Tests Positive for COVID-19

Well, it was one passenger.  Now:

SeaDream 1: five passengers test positive for Covid-19 on Caribbean cruise ship

The politics / Re: The Alt Right
« on: November 12, 2020, 06:58:11 PM »
A major milestone on the road to a Second American Civil War.
AFAIK this is the first time a significant media source has endorsed violence (correct me if I'm wrong).
I am documenting it here for you.
It is, as you might expect, the American Thinker.

Surveying the Aftermath of a Stolen Election
How much further down this road will the Right Wing go?

If I might suggest... This forum does not permit climate denial material, or even URLs to climate denial sites. The reason is that doing any of this promotes such denial.

I think we should do the same thing with alt-Right/fascist/NeoNazi material.  Don't quote it, don't link to it.  Talk about what they're doing, if you like.  Have discussions.  But do nothing that remotely promotes this toxic ideology.

The politics / Re: The Trump Presidency
« on: November 11, 2020, 07:29:33 PM »
Yeah, it feels, based on what I read here in Europe, that Trump and his government are planning a coup d'etat;

His suddenly stacking DoD with his supporters does merit real concern.  However, the leading hypothesis here is that he's using his drummed-up controversy to milk more money from his supporters.  The longer he drags this out, the more money he makes.

Policy and solutions / Re: Tesla glory/failure
« on: November 11, 2020, 05:57:02 PM »
binocular parallax.  Would have been better to look that up before wouldn't it.  It seems Humans use size to estimate distance but computers can detect angle across two binnocular camera's.
No, humans rely heavily on binocular vision to perceive depth and distance.  But also use other cues.  If you're skeptical, try doing household tasks with a patch over one eye.  Using binocular vision allows us to perceive distance rather well.  Perhaps you used a VueMaster as a child?  It made landscapes come alive from two slightly dissimilar images.  All from the magic of binocular vision alone.

Having our eyes only an inch or two appart limits our ability to perceive parallax for range-finding to relatively short distances.  As the eyes/cameras are farther apart, distance at which range-finding functions well increases dramatically.  That's why WW-II range finding scopes looked like this:

However, if you read the article I linked, it is not quite so simple as it sounds.  In a moving vehicle with a moving target, getting an image match will not be simple and requiring quite a lot of compute power.  In that Scenario, having Lidar as an additional input would make things faster and extremely accurate.
Color me skeptical.  If images are taken at, say, 0.05 seconds apart, how hard is it for a computer to match the various objects in one frame with the next frame?  Compared with the massive challenges of reliable object recognition, i think fairly trivial. And once you've matched objects, calculating distance and relative velocity is a trivial task for a smart calculator.

I can't see that adding lidar to binocular cameras (plus sonar, plus radar) adds anything at all.  The lidar itself is truly inadequate to the tasks of object recognition and reading road signs.

Policy and solutions / Re: Tesla glory/failure
« on: November 11, 2020, 02:39:22 AM »
  Of course it still means mistakes can be made and that Lidar could help, for instance a miniature poodle, perfect in every way, would need to be analysed with its background information to show it is not very far away, whereas Lidar would tell the car exactly.

This isn't remotely true.  As I understand things the Tesla has binocular vision.  It can measure the distance to any object instantly, just by comparing the right image to the left image.  Yeah, the LIDAR could measure to perhaps mm accuracy, while the Tesla binocular system perhaps only to cm accuracy.  But this is still far better than humans, and more than sufficient.

Camera images are necessary to better identify objects, and can also read signs.  If you have binocular vision, I don't see adding LIDAR adds any value at all.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: November 11, 2020, 12:13:13 AM »
While we are talking cross species transfer maybe it is nice to have some other species to experiment on. Ferrets apparently have been used to test a nasal spray that can deter Covid, at least in ferrets. It reminds me of the kombu extract ,fucoidan,nasal spray that similarly junked up the spike proteins.

So mustelids are trending

Oh yes.  Not surprising.  It's a sulfated polysaccharide.  I recall reading that an array of sulfated polysaccharides will  inactivate covid.  A web-found description:

"Fucoidan is a complex polysaccharide found in many species of brown seaweed. It has been shown to slow blood clotting. Laboratory studies suggest that it can prevent the growth of cancer cells and has antiviral, neuroprotective, and immune-modulating effects."

I'm highly skeptical that any complex polysaccharide can be absorbed into the body intact, for treating established infections.  But maybe we'll all be sniffing and gargling with the stuff to prevent infection.  I wouldn't hesitate, if it were recommended by trustworthy sources.

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