The window of opportunity

Life is full of brief fading windows of opportunity, followed by new opportunities. You’re young and healthy with few responsibilities for a brief moment, you won’t be cave-diving when you’re forty, obese and have two children. Assets trade at ridiculous valuations for brief moments. I made 30k off my Tesla puts when I sold them a few days ago, because I bought them when they were a car company trading at 11 times revenue with a declining backlog.

And similarly, there are brief windows of opportunity when you can stop a new virus from spreading throughout the human population. With SARS-COV-2 we never stood much of a chance: The Chinese government tried covering up what had happened. By the time we received the genetic sequence the thing was already in every major city. Transmission is through the air and the symptoms were generally indistinguishable from a regular cold, it was only really its evolutionary potential that made it a big threat.

And yet it would be easy to learn the wrong lessons from this disaster. Allow me to show you the death toll of another virus:

The death toll from this virus is clearly steadily rising. But now compare it to the cases:

Something here does not add up.

There are different explanations to consider:

-Delay in reporting of deaths

-Gradually increasing virulence of new strains

-Big delay between infection and death

-Virus has moved into more vulnerable demographics

And the most important and most likely explanation:

-We’re simply missing a growing share of cases.

Note, the deaths and cases are not happening in sub-Saharan Africa. They’re mostly happening in South America now, in countries like Peru.

What I’ve noticed is that most people don’t care much about tail risks. A tail risk is a small chance with a huge impact. I’ve pointed out a few by now on this blog. A good example are new SARS2 variants born from Molnupiravir. We observe human to human spread of such variants, what we haven’t seen yet is one superior to the dominant strains at spreading itself. What are the odds of this happening? Nobody knows.

In a similar manner, monkeypox is a tail risk. It’s not just the deaths itself that has me worried. It’s the nature of the deaths. You have young gay men, who spend weeks in the hospital, as their face slowly rots off. They become unrecognizable as human. Imagine for a moment what the impact of this is, on the family and the medical personnel who have to treat patients like this. For every death, you’ll have a bunch of people with PTSD symptoms.

The window of opportunity to eradicate this virus still exists. Europe has so far eradicated it, North America has practically eradicated it. But you have to win every single match to win the game. If you allow this to fester in South America for an extended period, you’ll end up seeing it emerge among heterosexuals, or you could even end up with sustained airborne transmission.

And I have to point out again, that this virus behaves awfully different in people who have damaged immune systems. Most healthy young gay men will have some lesions on the anogenital region. If you have untreated AIDS, it can cause your face to rot away.

And somewhere in between “healthy young” and “untreated AIDS”, exists the average obese middle-aged American who is down to his third COVID infection in a year. What does it look like in them? We’re best off never finding out.

The WHO was entirely right to declare this a global emergency. With situations like this, you’d rather anticipate what’s going to happen, than to end up responding to it. You know you did it right, when after it’s over people say: “What was all this panic needed for?”

The reason smallpox was eradicated is because the Americans did the math and realized it’s just cheaper to eradicate the virus than to have to be constantly on the lookout for it and keep vaccinating everyone. So far, it remains the only virus we have ever truly eradicated from human beings.

It’s possible for us to add monkeypox to the list of viruses eradicated from our species. Unfortunately, that’s not the direction things seem to be going. Cases have been steady for a month now, while the death toll creeps up.

My experience in life tells me that you should never ignore the power of human stupidity. This looks like the sort of thing where people only realize it’s a problem by the time it can no longer be solved, until which time it’s a “lamestream media fearmongering hoax” in the words of low status white males. My suggestion is to avoid that outcome. Developed nations should take a serious effort, to help nations where this virus still circulates eradicate it.

If you have the opportunity to eradicate a virus that causes your face to slowly rot off, you should probably take it.

19 Comments

    • I’m not too sure, it’s honestly not really my area of expertise.

      I imagine you would want proper wastewater surveillance and you would want to make sure everyone with AIDS gets proper antiretroviral treatment.

      The vaccines are a much tougher call. We have far less data than we did with COVID19.

      In contrast to COVID19, it’s still perfectly possible that it never gets the opportunity to develop vaccine-evasive variants. With COVID19 it was pretty obvious early on that it would develop vaccine-evasive variants.

      However, vaccinating someone against monkeypox who has active untreated AIDS and who subsequently gets infected seems to me like it could be dangerous.

      What I do know is that you don’t want this to continue festering in some impoverished remote corner of the world as everyone stops paying attention to it.

      That could very easily go very wrong.

        • People certaintly have the drive to try at least. The party for reform gets infiltrated by the oligarchs, splits and forces out the leader. People getting shot left and right for months now at protests and they have not given up. People think you need to be as rich as the USA or Switzerland to improve the health of the population when it’s low and middle income countries that pull of miracles.

  1. Quote: “I made 30k off my Tesla puts when I sold them a few days ago …”.

    Making profit with stocks means participating in a greed machine which destroys the planet. You have lost your innocence and your credibility with this act.

    • Kudos to Diogenes for somehow bypassing use of a profit-making greed machine’s product known as the computer to publish his/her comment.

      • As philospher I know that be a vegan/vegetarian is only eyewash (if you drink a glass of water you kill millions of tiny animnals). It’s also impossible to not be a part of the big Greed Maachine even if not owning stocks. So I’m guilty too.

        But I decide to NOT put flesh on my plate and to NOT own stocks, because that’s exactly the same.

    • Markets only function well when people actively participate in them and try to get a good deal for the products they purchase.

      When people don’t do this, opportunities are ignored, or we get massive speculative bubbles that cause us to waste scarce resources. A lot of our misery today comes from the ongoing passive investing bubble that Michael Burry has explained.

      It’s necessary for people to participate in the market. The moral challenge emerges when you have to decide how to use your proceeds from participating in the market.

      • I’d like to see an investing guide post again, l believe you recommended a book. Not the Michael Burry one, an older one. Not sure holding my few remaining index funds is smart much longer.

  2. Is this specially true of MP, or is it equally true of any illness, now that we have, perhaps, a huge worldwide population of immune-compromised people?

  3. As with many other episodic diseases, the there’s an animal reservoir. This one in in central/west African mammals; I don’t believe the specific species are known although the name ‘monkey’ is suggestive.

    In other words there is no practical way to eradicate it.

    In the world of a few years hence it will not be possible to spend vast sums trying to manage a behavioral disease. There is exactly zero chance that we even grind this thing to zero in the human population before the end of large spending programs gets here. Ideally the gay community tackles the thing now and figures out what can be done on their end with minimal help from the other 98% or whatever it is.

  4. Rintrah, the real plague comes not from nature, but from ourselves. The idea that somebody has the authority to tell others what they should do. WHO’s push to change its guidelines is beyond dangerous. You will eventually have a few bureaucrats essentially paid by big pharma, with the right to mandate medical interventions and no accountability whatsoever. The potential danger from the monkeypox virus is really, at least in my eyes, orders of magnitude smaller.
    Authority and top down order is the most unnatural thing ever and is the real threat to us all.

  5. Now I’m seeing how things are going to go. Covid can infect many, many types of wild and domestic animals, and it has been doing so. It then weakens their immune systems, and they can’t fight off illnesses. I know lots of people whose pets are dying young from cancer. And that is also is why the bird flu is now infecting and killing seals and lions and more – covid has made them susceptible. Because of these many new animal vectors, bird flu will soon jump to humans, and our covid-wrecked immune systems will be especially bad at fighting it off. It will be bird flu, not monkeypox, that kills most of us off.

    • There is no reason for having a high density population anywhere. Demographic pressure makes people brutish. Geniuses existed prior to our decadent population growth.

      The post starts off vulgar enough: I never was healthy and do not care about cave diving, which is prole and deranged. You are addicted to life like a heroin addict. Were I not a Christian, I would kill myself and be done with my stupid existence I never asked for the in the first place. See Nils M. Holm’s writing on t3x.org about people with three+ sigma IQs suffering in life.

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The patients in the mental ward have had their daily dose of xanax and calmed down it seems, so most of your comments should be automatically posted again. Try not to annoy me with your low IQ low status white male theories about the Nazi gas chambers being fake or CO2 being harmless plant food and we can all get along. Have fun!

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