# Tags & Posts Using Them

Tagged: About

Tags applied to posts & pages so far: ϜΤΦ, About, Beauty, BiotechAndPharma, CatBlogging, CorporateLifeAndItsDiscontents, COVID, Food, Investing, JournalClub, Math, MathInTheNews, MeaCulpa, NotableAndQuotable, Obscurantism, PharmaAndBiotech, Physics, Politics, R, Religion, Retirement, Sadness, SomebodyAskedMe, Statistics, TheDivineMadness

## ϜΤΦ:

• Fri 2022-May-13: But What's in Your Heart?!
A plaintive cry I hear with regrettable frequency from non-science/non-math types is that we are all heartless. “But what’s really in your heart?!” they whine. Today, I’ll show you.
• Wed 2022-May-11: Which Arm Gets the Booster?
A burning question for everybody who’s gotten a booster, or wants one: the same arm, or the other arm?
• Sat 2022-Apr-16: The Perks of a PhD in Finland
Today I found out that I missed out a bit by getting my PhD anywhere but Finland.
• Thu 2022-Apr-14: Passover & Late-Stage Capitalism
So, it’s Passover. What might late-stage capitalism have to say about that?
Somebody asked me to put a headshot up on this crummy little blog that nobody reads (CLBTNR). No idea why, but…
• Mon 2022-Mar-14: Reflection on Pi Day
Today is Pi Day (3/14), so we reflect upon π.
• Fri 2022-Mar-11: XKCD: Qua
XKCD qua XKCD is just XKCD. Latin does things to your mind.
• Tue 2022-Feb-15: Sustaining Spirit in Hard Times: People are Complicated
Times are difficult, here in the 3rd year of a global pandemic that drags on and on, because people just cannot grasp the importance of public health measures and vaccination. Anything that sustains our spirit and our belief in a good core of human nature is important. So why am I looking at dog statues on bridges in Prague?
• Fri 2022-Jan-07: Tech Skepticism
It’s fashionable lately to be skeptical about technology. (Of everything, really.) Sometimes we don’t realize how deep are the roots of suspicion of innovation, and (usually) how wrong.
• Sun 2022-Jan-02: Boston First Night: Best Ice Sculpture
Against best pandemic advice, First Night happened again in Boston. Wanna see a highlight?
• Sat 2022-Jan-01: L'état du blog: 2021
A full calendar year of blogging has passed. So, thankfully, has the annus horribilis 2021CE. How did we come out? (The blog, that is. 2021 itself is still too traumatizing to discuss.)
• Wed 2021-Dec-29: In Celebration of Mid-Winter Beauty
Winter is just objectively the best time of year. Do not attempt to correct me on this matter.
• Sun 2021-Dec-05: Avoding Vaccination With More Creativity Than Common Sense
Remember last month, when we had the story about people in Greece bribing doctors for fake vaccines, and doctors taking the money but giving real vaccines? Even though that story has some believability challenges, it’s no longer the weirdest vaccine story I’ve heard. Move over, Greece: the Italians are on the job. (And where are the French surrealists, anyway?)
• Mon 2021-Nov-08: Three Lessons from COVID
COVID-19 has taught us some lessons about (a) how mind-numbingly stupid and corrupt we can be, and (b) some forms of corruption that are so confusing that I can’t tell if they are the divine madness or instead just &Gammad;ΤΦ.
• Wed 2021-Oct-20: State of the Blog at 1 Year
This crummy little blog that nobody reads has been around for a little more than a year. It’s time to look at the numbers and see how we’ve been doing.
• Tue 2021-Oct-05: The Man Who Wins New England Autumn
Today I learned of a hero, engaged in a Great Work that is clearly a service to all humanity. Oh, and there were donuts, too.
• Sat 2021-Sep-25: Work Nightmares: A Fantasy of Fairness
Yes, discontent with the corporate system and rule by managers is a thing. As are the associated nightmares, and the corresponding fantasies of justice.
• Thu 2021-Sep-16: Some days I feel like this dog
Problem-solving skills are important.
• Mon 2021-Sep-06: Rosh Hashanah: A Chance to Start Over on Labor Day
Today is Labor Day in the US. It’s also Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. What can we make of that coincidence, even without being Jewish?
• Mon 2021-Jul-12: Really, Republicans?
[Warning: US-centric, lefty political rant. If you’re from outside the US and want to laugh at us… well, fair enough: we’ve earned it.] I mean… really, Republicans? Do you seriously want to put up with politicians like this? For what possible reason? Why would you even want to be in the same party as people like this?
• Mon 2021-May-10: Dracula and the vaccine
Romania has one of the highest vaccine hesitancy rates in Europe, around 50%. They’re starting to get… creative.
• Fri 2021-Apr-30: CORVID 19
In Latin, “corvus” means crow. So the adjectival form used in biology for birds-such-as-crows is “corvid”. Sometimes people get confused in interesting ways.
• Thu 2021-Apr-01: April foolishness
Today is April Fool’s Day. Attrapons le poisson d’avril!
• Thu 2021-Mar-25: Free Bird
Let’s think about something other than COVID. Not Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird”, awesome as that is, but an actual free bird consorting with flying humans.
• Mon 2021-Mar-22: The pandemic year in retrospect
Time for perspective: we’ve been stuck in a pandemic for a year now. What’s the best summary of your experience?
• Sun 2021-Mar-14: Pi Day: Are you still using decimal notation?!
Today is Pi Day (3/14). You’re not still using decimal, are you?
• Mon 2021-Jan-25: Today this blog got its first spam
Honestly, what sort of idiot tries to sell fake Viagra on an obscure, crummy little blog like this? And on an old post at that?! (Please don’t answer those rhetorical questions, especially if you actually know the answers.)
• Wed 2020-Dec-30: Serious adverse event frequency: about like getting struck by lightning?
Explaining to COVID vaccine clinical trial participants that the probability of a certain serious adverse event is 1/50,000 or less doesn’t work. Most people instantly stop listening at the slightest whiff of mathematics, including ordinary numbers. But if you compare it to being struck by lightning, that makes sense to most people. Can you guess what happened next?
• Tue 2020-Dec-29: Santa and the cops
Here at Chez Weekend, there’s a rumor circulating that on Christmas Eve, Santa got pulled over by the cops?!
• Mon 2020-Dec-14: My cat is a fin-de-siècle French night club cat?!
Apparently the Weekend Publisher, occasionally also known as “my cat”, is the reincarnation of the spirit animal of a fin-de-siècle cabaret in Paris.
• Sat 2020-Oct-24: At autumn in New England, thoughts turn to...
At autumn in New England, thoughts turn to the extreme beauty of nature, the weather turning more comfortably cooler & drier, cinnamon and nutmeg smells everywhere, and… trebuchets, catapaults, air cannons, and other implements of imparting to pumpkins various levels of sub-orbital trajectories.
• Fri 2020-Aug-07: What's that stupid avatar?
Somebody asked me, “What’s that stupid avatar on your blog?” It’s a reminder that even simple questions show infinite complexity if you look closely enough. And sometimes even if you don’t!
• Thu 2020-Jul-02: The Retirement of Iphegenia

• Fri 2022-May-13: But What's in Your Heart?!
A plaintive cry I hear with regrettable frequency from non-science/non-math types is that we are all heartless. “But what’s really in your heart?!” they whine. Today, I’ll show you.
Somebody asked me to put a headshot up on this crummy little blog that nobody reads (CLBTNR). No idea why, but…
• Sat 2022-Jan-01: L'état du blog: 2021
A full calendar year of blogging has passed. So, thankfully, has the annus horribilis 2021CE. How did we come out? (The blog, that is. 2021 itself is still too traumatizing to discuss.)
• Wed 2021-Oct-20: State of the Blog at 1 Year
This crummy little blog that nobody reads has been around for a little more than a year. It’s time to look at the numbers and see how we’ve been doing.
• Mon 2021-May-03: Reviewing Google Translate for These Blog Posts
A few weeks ago, we hooked up Google Translate for this blog. It’s time to review how well it’s been working… or not.
• Mon 2021-Jan-25: Today this blog got its first spam
Honestly, what sort of idiot tries to sell fake Viagra on an obscure, crummy little blog like this? And on an old post at that?! (Please don’t answer those rhetorical questions, especially if you actually know the answers.)
• Fri 2020-Aug-07: What's that stupid avatar?
Somebody asked me, “What’s that stupid avatar on your blog?” It’s a reminder that even simple questions show infinite complexity if you look closely enough. And sometimes even if you don’t!
• Mon 2020-Jul-20: Math test post
Just seeing if I can make the math typesetting work. Nothing to see here, kid… move along.
• Wed 2020-Jul-01: Fiat blog.
So… yet another blog? Really?!

## Beauty:

• Fri 2022-May-13: But What's in Your Heart?!
A plaintive cry I hear with regrettable frequency from non-science/non-math types is that we are all heartless. “But what’s really in your heart?!” they whine. Today, I’ll show you.
• Sat 2022-Apr-16: The Perks of a PhD in Finland
Today I found out that I missed out a bit by getting my PhD anywhere but Finland.
Somebody asked me to put a headshot up on this crummy little blog that nobody reads (CLBTNR). No idea why, but…
• Sat 2022-Mar-19: Some Unexpected Inspiration on Russia & Ukraine
Today I came across an unexpected source of encouragement in the matter of Russia and Ukraine.
• Mon 2022-Mar-14: Reflection on Pi Day
Today is Pi Day (3/14), so we reflect upon π.
Yesterday we went to the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the first time in, obviously, years.
• Fri 2022-Mar-11: XKCD: Qua
XKCD qua XKCD is just XKCD. Latin does things to your mind.
• Wed 2022-Feb-23: Pessimism and Optimism
Somebody asked me why I’m always so dour. Well, times are hard: pandemic waves, disinformation & death, potential nuclear war over Ukraine, the rise of the fascist right, climate change not only unchecked but furiously denied, and so on. So let’s take some inventory of our problems… and maybe a few points that (may) cause hope for the future.
• Tue 2022-Feb-15: Sustaining Spirit in Hard Times: People are Complicated
Times are difficult, here in the 3rd year of a global pandemic that drags on and on, because people just cannot grasp the importance of public health measures and vaccination. Anything that sustains our spirit and our belief in a good core of human nature is important. So why am I looking at dog statues on bridges in Prague?
• Mon 2022-Jan-17: MLK Day 2022
Today in the US is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when we honor the civil rights advocate who pushed for rights for racial minorities and the poor, for which he was assassinated. How best should that honor be expressed?
• Fri 2022-Jan-07: Tech Skepticism
It’s fashionable lately to be skeptical about technology. (Of everything, really.) Sometimes we don’t realize how deep are the roots of suspicion of innovation, and (usually) how wrong.
• Sun 2022-Jan-02: Boston First Night: Best Ice Sculpture
Against best pandemic advice, First Night happened again in Boston. Wanna see a highlight?
• Wed 2021-Dec-29: In Celebration of Mid-Winter Beauty
Winter is just objectively the best time of year. Do not attempt to correct me on this matter.
• Wed 2021-Dec-15: Tis the Season… of the Analemma
It’s that season again: the time of nerdly meditations on the analemma. The shortest day of the year, Dec 21, is yet to come. But for night owls, the day of earliest sunset (at the latitude of Château Weekend) was Dec 8th. How can that be? That’s the tale of the analemma!
• Tue 2021-Oct-05: The Man Who Wins New England Autumn
Today I learned of a hero, engaged in a Great Work that is clearly a service to all humanity. Oh, and there were donuts, too.
• Sat 2021-Sep-11: On war memorials
Today marks 2 decades since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in NYC, the Pentagon in DC, and a third target that was spared because airline passengers forced a crash in Shanksville, PA. It also marks, with the recent US withdrawal from Afghanistan, at least a winding down, though possibly not a complete ending, of 20 years of war. It’s time to think about war memorials… sort of.
• Thu 2021-Mar-25: Free Bird
Let’s think about something other than COVID. Not Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird”, awesome as that is, but an actual free bird consorting with flying humans.
• Mon 2020-Dec-21: Winter solstice, Dodds's Day, and the Weekend Editrix's Day
Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. It is not, however, the day of earliest sunset (of interest to night owls). Nor is it the day of latest sunrise (of interest to morning… people). Therein lies the tale of the analemma, first told to me long ago by a marvelous former colleague, Doug Dodds.
• Sat 2020-Oct-24: At autumn in New England, thoughts turn to...
At autumn in New England, thoughts turn to the extreme beauty of nature, the weather turning more comfortably cooler & drier, cinnamon and nutmeg smells everywhere, and… trebuchets, catapaults, air cannons, and other implements of imparting to pumpkins various levels of sub-orbital trajectories.

## CatBlogging:

• Fri 2022-May-13: But What's in Your Heart?!
A plaintive cry I hear with regrettable frequency from non-science/non-math types is that we are all heartless. “But what’s really in your heart?!” they whine. Today, I’ll show you.
Somebody asked me to put a headshot up on this crummy little blog that nobody reads (CLBTNR). No idea why, but…
• Wed 2022-Jan-26: Pan-Coronavirus Vaccines
Last October, we noted that NIAID had granted $36 million for the development of a pan-coronavirus vaccine. Time for an report: how’s that working out? • Tue 2022-Jan-11: Finding paxlovid Paxlovid is a remarkable early therapeutic for people who’ve caught COVID-19. But… it’s very scarce for the next few months, ironically during the Omicron wave. Where can you score some paxlovid?! • Wed 2021-Dec-29: In Celebration of Mid-Winter Beauty Winter is just objectively the best time of year. Do not attempt to correct me on this matter. • Wed 2021-Oct-27: Today the Weekend Editrix got shot (for the 6th time!) Today the Weekend Editrix got shot, also for the sixth time this year! It was pretty good. • Mon 2021-Sep-13: On the ratio of Beta-distributed random variables [Warning: Post contains full frontal nerdity. Bug reports appreciated!] I finally got a copy of Pham-Gia’s paper on the distribution of the ratio of 2 independent Beta-distributed random variables. While I still have some childhood trauma around hypergeometric functions like${}_{2}F_{1}()$and its even scarier big brother${}_{3}F_{2}()… it’s time to face my fears. • Mon 2021-Jan-25: Today this blog got its first spam Honestly, what sort of idiot tries to sell fake Viagra on an obscure, crummy little blog like this? And on an old post at that?! (Please don’t answer those rhetorical questions, especially if you actually know the answers.) • Tue 2020-Dec-29: Santa and the cops Here at Chez Weekend, there’s a rumor circulating that on Christmas Eve, Santa got pulled over by the cops?! • Mon 2020-Dec-14: My cat is a fin-de-siècle French night club cat?! Apparently the Weekend Publisher, occasionally also known as “my cat”, is the reincarnation of the spirit animal of a fin-de-siècle cabaret in Paris. • Mon 2020-Nov-02: Coronavirus & Elections: The Winter of Our Discontent The election is coming, with a possibility of right-wing violence and subversion. COVID-19 is forming up for another wave of infections. Winter is coming. It’s terrifying, but there are some things you can do. ## CorporateLifeAndItsDiscontents: ## COVID: • Thu 2022-May-12: What's in the Moderna 2022-Q1 Earnings Call? Apparently Moderna just had an earnings call, and there was some talk of whether multivalent Omicron boosters could be available in time for fall/winter 2022/2023. • Wed 2022-May-11: Which Arm Gets the Booster? A burning question for everybody who’s gotten a booster, or wants one: the same arm, or the other arm? • Tue 2022-May-10: Compassion for the Unvaccinated I have a hard time controlling my anger at the unvaccinated, the spreaders of disinformation, and the superstitious for prolonging the pandemic and killing people world-wide. Others, who are likely better people than me, have managed to find another way. • Sun 2022-May-08: The Highest-Vaccination Ethnic Group in the US, Redux Remember last year when we noted the highest-vaccination ethnic group in the US? They’re still winning, and it shows in the statistics. • Fri 2022-May-06: The Pan-Coronavirus Vaccine Landscape What sort of progress is being made on pancoronavirus vaccines? • Tue 2022-May-03: How Can Evusheld Possibly Work?! Evusheld is an antibody infusion which confers about 6 months of vaccine-like immunity to COVID-19. How can that possibly work, when antibodies last a few days to a few weeks?! • Mon 2022-May-02: No Masks + New Wave = ? Somehow we’ve stumbled into striking down mask mandates. Who did that? AND is it ok, with the next wave situation of SARS-CoV2? Do you even have to guess? • Sun 2022-May-01: It's Always Been 2 Americas for COVID-19 COVID-19 has brought to light a lot of disparities in the US. Today’s scientific paper is about just how certainly we know the Trumpy parts of the country, especially the South, were COVID-19 disasters: hundreds of thousands of excess deaths due to mask defiance, vaccine refusal, and malign conservative disinformation. • Sat 2022-Apr-30: Preventive Paxlovid Fails Pfizer just read out a Phase 2/3 trial of paxlovid for preventing transmission of COVID-19 to other members of a household when one member is infected. Alas: nope. • Fri 2022-Apr-29: Too Much AND Too Little COVID-19?! Recently 2 Trump-appointed judges in the US have ruled that they can overturn Biden policies because there is simultaneously too much COVID-19 and too little COVID-19. They’re not even pretending to be rational any more. • Thu 2022-Apr-28: Weekend Editrix Shot For the 7th Time Today the Weekend Editrix got shot for the 7th time in the trailing 12 months, having gotten her 2nd booster for COVID-19. • Mon 2022-Apr-25: Japan's Shionogi Ltd. Has Another COVID-19 Antiviral in Late-Stage Trials Some good news: there’s now another COVID-19 antiviral drug candidate that has the same target as paxlovid in late clinical trials. • Mon 2022-Apr-18: Ivermectin vs Strongyloidiasis Paper Published Somebody asked me about the evidence associating putative ivermectin effects with worms, not COVID-19. Seems like it’s been finally published! • Fri 2022-Apr-08: FDA VRBPAC Meeting on Booster & Vaccine Variant Policy This week the FDA’S Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) met to consider future policy for vaccine boosters and variants for the future. • Fri 2022-Apr-01: Today: Shot for the 7th time Today I got my 7th vaccination shot in the last 12 months. Happily. • Fri 2022-Mar-25: On the Tension Between Hope and Despair I feel I’m walking a knife-edge between hope and despair. The news is not helping. • Fri 2022-Mar-18: COVID-19: Lessons Learned & Another Booster We would like to think we’ve learned a few things from our collective COVID-19 experience, but the evidence is somewhat equivocal. What we’ve definitely learned is that there will almost certainly be another booster. • Wed 2022-Mar-09: Rethinking NPIs and Vaccinations People are clamoring for an end to “restrictions”, by which they mean masks and closures. And, of course, vaccination mandates. They’re eager to be done with COVID-19, whether COVID-19 is done with them or not. Does any of that make sense? Well… some of it… maybe. • Mon 2022-Mar-07: Ivermectin Revenant Somebody asked about a recently published abstract comparing ivermectin vs remdesivir in treating COVID-19. (Sigh.) • Fri 2022-Mar-04: On the Difficulty of Making Paxlovid Somebody asked me why we don’t have enough paxlovid or bebtelovimab to go around. After mumbling “something something supply chain”, they ask another question: why can’t we just make more, and faster? Far from being naïve, that’s a very good question. • Sat 2022-Feb-26: Masterful Data Journalism on US Political Resistance to COVID-19 Vaccines Joss Fong at Vox just put together an explainer on political defiance of COVID-19 vaccines in the US. It’s one of the best pieces of data journalism lite (i.e., no equations) and graphic design for explanation that I’ve ever seen. • Wed 2022-Feb-23: Pessimism and Optimism Somebody asked me why I’m always so dour. Well, times are hard: pandemic waves, disinformation & death, potential nuclear war over Ukraine, the rise of the fascist right, climate change not only unchecked but furiously denied, and so on. So let’s take some inventory of our problems… and maybe a few points that (may) cause hope for the future. • Sat 2022-Feb-19: Republicans Still a Death Cult?! Yesterday came simultaneous bits of evidence in the US that (a) COVID-19 death rates for unvaccinated are unambiguously disastrous, and (b) Republicans attempted to defund any school that takes COVID-19 protections. This is ‘death cult’ levels of badness. • Tue 2022-Feb-15: Sustaining Spirit in Hard Times: People are Complicated Times are difficult, here in the 3rd year of a global pandemic that drags on and on, because people just cannot grasp the importance of public health measures and vaccination. Anything that sustains our spirit and our belief in a good core of human nature is important. So why am I looking at dog statues on bridges in Prague? • Sun 2022-Feb-13: The Shame of the Anti-Vaxxers The shameful behavior of the anti-vaxxers has reached intolerable levels. It’s been extremely bad for a while, but now they’re picking off prominent scientists and public intellectuals with death threats. • Fri 2022-Feb-11: FDA VRBPAC To Consider Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids 6mo - 4yr On Monday 2022-Feb-15 the FDA’s VRBPAC will meet to consider Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for ages 6mo - 2yr. It worked for 6mo - 2yr, but not for 2yr - 4yr. A 3rd dose is being tested for 2yr - 4yr, but the FDA invited this application so parents can get their kids started on the first 2 doses while waiting for data on the 3rd. Unusual? Very! • Wed 2022-Feb-09: On the Moderna Monkey Trial of Omicron-Specific Boosters Somebody asked me about a report that Moderna’s monkey trial of an Omicron-specific booster wasn’t any better than the existing vaccine. What should we think about that? • Tue 2022-Feb-08: On the Importance of Nagging the Unvaccinated It’s important that we keep nagging people to get vaccinated, at escalating levels of unpleasantness. Let me show you why. • Mon 2022-Feb-07: SARS-CoV2 Cryptic Sequences in NYC Wastewater: Why Not to Sleep Well at Night As long as we’ve got our heads in the sewers, what else is happening with wastewater SARS-CoV2 analyses? It turns out, New York City rather alarmingly has some “cryptic sequences” not yet observed in humans. This is how the virus is scheming to throw another wave at us. • Fri 2022-Feb-04: Boston Wastewater Re-Re-Visited: Sewage Viral RNA vs COVID-19 Cases and Deaths In 2020-November and 2021-May, we looked at the SARS-CoV2 mRNA in Boston wastewater. It’s relation to medical loads was erratic. How’s it look with another 9 months of data? • Mon 2022-Jan-31: When You Say 'I Did My Own Research'… What Does That Sound Like to Actual Research Scientists? Lots people say ‘I did my own research’ on subjects in which they are not sufficiently educated to evaluate data, let alone form an independent opinion reliably. Here’s what that sounds like to actual research scientists. • Mon 2022-Jan-31: Moderna COVID-19 vaccine fully FDA-approved Good news: the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, aka ‘Spikevax’, is now fully FDA-approved! • Fri 2022-Jan-28: The Ten Billionth Dose There have now been around 10 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses given. What should we make of that? • Wed 2022-Jan-26: Pan-Coronavirus Vaccines Last October, we noted that NIAID had granted36 million for the development of a pan-coronavirus vaccine. Time for an report: how’s that working out?
• Wed 2022-Jan-19: Med-Chem Optimization of Paxlovid
Previously, we wrote about how hard it currently is to find paxlovid, given intense demand, supply chain frustrations, and the complex synthesis pathway. Today let’s have a look at how exactly one goes about discovering such a thing, with an improbable number of steps in its chemistry. (Hint: an awful lot of luck/serendipity was involved!)
• Tue 2022-Jan-18: Comparing the US COVID-19 Pandemic to Other Countries
How’s the US pandemic doing in comparison to other countries, particularly those that Republicans love to diss?
• Wed 2022-Jan-12: Paxlovid Availability vs the Omicron Wave
The Omicron wave is coming. Paxlovid is scarce. Which way will it go?
• Tue 2022-Jan-11: Finding paxlovid
Paxlovid is a remarkable early therapeutic for people who’ve caught COVID-19. But… it’s very scarce for the next few months, ironically during the Omicron wave. Where can you score some paxlovid?!
• Thu 2022-Jan-06: Reeeeeeally long COVID!
How long can COVID-19 go on? If you answered less than $O(10^4)$ years until everyone with susceptible genes is dead… well, think again.
• Wed 2021-Dec-22: FDA Authorizes Paxlovid
… aaaaand, today the suspense is over: the FDA has authorized paxlovid.
• Tue 2021-Dec-14: Veni, veni paxlovid!
Today Pfizer announced they’ve submitted the final data package to the FDA for their COVID-19 anti-viral oral therapy, paxlovid. Wanna take a look at the (scant) data we have so far, as a holiday gift of sorts to all of humanity?
• Fri 2021-Dec-10: The Weekend Editrix Exposed to COVID-19: An Adventure with Bayes Rule in Medical Testing
Last weekend, the Weekend Editrix was exposed to a person who tested positive for COVID-19. The need for rapid testing suddenly became very real for us. While waiting for the test to work, we worked out the Bayesian stats for the test: a positive test means near-100% chance of COVID-19, while a negative test means 89.4% chance of no COVID-19.
• Thu 2021-Dec-09: FDA Grants EUA to AstraZeneca's Evusheld for COVID-19 Prevention
Guess what? Yesterday, the FDA gave Emergency Use Authorization to another COVID-19 medication, Evusheld from AstraZeneca. Yeah… I didn’t know, either!
YLE has some important advice for all of us about surviving Omicron.
• Mon 2021-Dec-06: Omicron vs Delta
Will the Omicron variant outcompete Delta? Starting to look like it. Will that be a bad thing? Dunno, could go either way depending on reinfection rate and severity.
• Sun 2021-Dec-05: Avoding Vaccination With More Creativity Than Common Sense
Remember last month, when we had the story about people in Greece bribing doctors for fake vaccines, and doctors taking the money but giving real vaccines? Even though that story has some believability challenges, it’s no longer the weirdest vaccine story I’ve heard. Move over, Greece: the Italians are on the job. (And where are the French surrealists, anyway?)
• Thu 2021-Dec-02: Mea Culpa: Efficacies Don't Average!
A couple days ago, commenting at TheZvi, I blithely averaged efficacies from the early and late cohorts of the molnupiravir trial. Fellow commenter Thomas pointed out that this is not correct! This post is a mea culpa and a lesson to myself on How to Do It Right.
• Tue 2021-Nov-30: FDA AMDAC Considers Merck's Molnupiravir
Today the FDA’s Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee (AMDAC) meets to decide whether or not to recommend emergency use authorization (EUA) of Merck’s molnupiravir, and antiviral therapy for mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults. Wanna read along?
• Sat 2021-Nov-27: So, nu? (I mean… So, omicron?)
There’s a new SARS-CoV2 variant. How bad does it look? Nobody really knows, but it’s got the potential to be very, very bad.
• Tue 2021-Nov-23: COVID-19: Is it 'over'?
With vaccination rates rising (albeit glacially slowly), and new therapeutics like molnupiravir and paxlovid about to be approved, people are asking: is it over? My take is: probably not.
• Fri 2021-Nov-19: A Couple Ivermectin Takedowns
The right-wing knuckleheadedness around ivermectin as a COVID-19 therapy continues to amaze me. This week I came across 2 ivermectin takedowns: a Malaysian clinical trial and Scott Alexander’s dissection of the ivmmeta.com metanalysis. Two thumbs down. Way down.
• Tue 2021-Nov-16: COVID-19 Continues to Kill Conservatives
Charles Gaba has updated his county-level COVID-19 vax rates and death rates, versus percentage of Trump voters. It’s not pretty.
• Fri 2021-Nov-12: On New COVID-19 Therapeutics
Vaccines are great, but now there are some exciting new treatments for COVID-19, in case you get a breakthrough infection (or made the wrong choice about accepting vaccination). Let’s look at how well they work, and what they might cost in comparison to other things.
• Tue 2021-Nov-09: On kids and vaccines: ending the pandemic
If you think we can end the pandemic without vaccinating kids because they tend not to get so sick… think again. Try harder this time.
• Mon 2021-Nov-08: Three Lessons from COVID
COVID-19 has taught us some lessons about (a) how mind-numbingly stupid and corrupt we can be, and (b) some forms of corruption that are so confusing that I can’t tell if they are the divine madness or instead just &Gammad;ΤΦ.
• Thu 2021-Nov-04: Natural vs Vaccine Immunity, Redux
Last summer, we saw some evidence that COVID-19 vaccination conferred better immunity than ‘natural’ immunity from recovering from the disease. How has that held up in the face of new evidence?
• Sat 2021-Oct-30: The Partisan Divide on COVID-19 Deaths
COVID-19 death rates in the US are nakedly partisan. So is mask resistance. So is delusional belief about nonsensical use of ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. Care to draw a conclusion?
• Wed 2021-Oct-27: Today the Weekend Editrix got shot (for the 6th time!)
Today the Weekend Editrix got shot, also for the sixth time this year! It was pretty good.
• Tue 2021-Oct-26: FDA VRBPAC Considers Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids 5 – 11
Today the FDA’s Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) meets to discuss an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty for children ages 5 – 11. Lots of parents have been awaiting this for the last year and a half, with varying degress of frayed nerves.
• Mon 2021-Oct-25: Are We Close to the End of the Pandemic?
Well… are we?
• Sun 2021-Oct-24: On 'Natural' Immunity Persistence vs COVID-19
What are the consequences of relying on ‘natural’ immunity after recovery from COVID-19? Pretty grim, as it turns out.
• Fri 2021-Oct-22: Cops vs The Rest of Us: Mask Edition
Two NYPD transit cops forcibly ejected a citizen from a Manhattan subway station. His crime? Pointing out that the cops were not wearing masks, in contravention of a statewide mask mandate, and, for that matter, simple common sense and courtesy.
• Mon 2021-Oct-18: Vaccine Mandate Origins in the US
The history of why vaccine mandates are in fact constitutional in the United States has a long, somewhat twisted history. It’s also of local interest, here at Chez Weekend, as many of the important events transpired a short MBTA ride away.
• Fri 2021-Oct-15: FDA Considers COVID-19 Boosters for J&J and Mix/Match Boosters
Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets to review the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen application for 2nd dose boosters of their COVID-19 vaccine. They will also at least discuss the 3x3 mix-and-match booster study.
• Thu 2021-Oct-14: FDA Considers COVID-19 Boosters for Moderna Spikevax
Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets to review the Moderna application for 3rd dose boosters of their COVID-19 vaccine, Spikevax. Wonderful name aside, there should be a good case to be made as well.
• Mon 2021-Oct-04: COVID-19 Miscellany
Do you want the good news first?
• Mon 2021-Sep-27: Today I got shot (for the 6th time!)
Today I got shot. Again. For the sixth time this year!
• Sat 2021-Sep-18: On the Naming of Vaccines
Today I learned the commercial names of the COVID-19 vaccines. One of them is a real winner!
• Fri 2021-Sep-17: FDA Considers COVID-19 Boosters for Pfizer Comirnaty
Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets to review the Pfizer/BioNTech application for 3rd dose boosters of their COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty. Opinion is divided, so there will be some arguing. I’m makin’ popcorn.
• Tue 2021-Sep-07: The Madness of Vaccine Resistance
Have a quarter of us gone mad? It would seem so…
• Thu 2021-Sep-02: Are we wasting too much COVID-19 vaccine?
Today comes news that we’ve wasted about 15.1 million doses of COVID-19 doses here in the US. Is that a lot, or a little? How does it compare with history? Is the difference, if any, just random or is it real, i.e., statistically significant?
• Sun 2021-Aug-29: Vaccination vs Hospitalization Rates: Simpson's Paradox
Somebody asked me about why the vaccines are high efficacy with rare breakthrough infections, but we can see a high fraction of the hospitalized are vaccinated? Right, very puzzling. Then somebody else asked me what I thought of an article about Simpson’s paradox in the context of COVID. Ding, ding, ding, ding!
• Sun 2021-Aug-29: ZDoggMD on telling COVID stories to motivate vaccination
I’m a data-driven guy who detests persuasian by emotional anecdotes. But most people are, to my dismay, different in that regard. ZDoggMD does a good job today of persuading them.
• Mon 2021-Aug-23: Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine fully FDA-approved
Good news: the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is now fully FDA-approved!
• Thu 2021-Aug-19: Two Predictions
From time to time, we make predictions here. Two of them were: high probability of COVID-19 vaccine boosters by fall 2021, and mRNA vaccines will dramatically change the future of vaccines. Guess what happened this week?
• Wed 2021-Aug-18: COVID-19 Vaccines and Alzheimers: Analyzing the Myth
Somebody asked me about whether the COVID-19 vaccines prevented Alzheimers. Wait, what?
• Tue 2021-Aug-17: COVID-19 Vaccines and Infertility: Analyzing the Myth
Somebody asked me about whether the COVID-19 vaccine could cause infertility. Wait, what?
• Wed 2021-Aug-04: Vaccine Efficacy, Delta Variant, and the CDC Changes
Last week several bombs were dropped: COVID vaccine efficacy with the Delta variant, breakthrough infections, asymptomatic carriers, and changes in CDC guidelines. Was the panicky media coverage at all useful?
• Thu 2021-Jul-29: Anger Among the Vaccinated
Somebody asked me why vaccinated people in the US seemed to be always so angry at the unvaccinated. Hmpf.
• Mon 2021-Jul-19: COVID-19 Vaccination is Better Than Natural Immunity
Periodically I meet people who think “natural” immunity from having had COVID-19 is somehow better than being vaccinated. A new Israeli study plumbs the depths of just how wrong that is.
• Sat 2021-Jul-17: COVID Vaccines: Why Not Full Approval?
Somebody asked me a couple days ago why the Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J vaccines don’t have full FDA approval. Umm… hmm. Good question.
• Fri 2021-Jul-16: The Highest-Vaccination Ethnic Group in the US
What ethnic group in the US do you think has the highest vaccination rate?
• Mon 2021-Jul-12: Thoughts on Variants & Vaccines
The variants are starting to pile up. Unless we vaccinate everybody faster, there are going to be variants which evade vaccines and then we start all over. How close are we to that?
• Tue 2021-Jul-06: Vaccinations vs Votes
Back in April, we did some statistical analysis showing Trumpy states tended to have dramatically lower vaccination rates. Is that still the case? Regrettably, yes: more than ever.
• Wed 2021-Jun-30: ZDoggMD on the Delta Variant
Somebody asked me what I thought of ZDogg’s explanation of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant. My first thought was “ZDogg who? Is that a rapper or something?” My final thought was that the guy’s eminently reasonable, eloquent, and kind.
• Thu 2021-Jun-10: US COVID-19: A Tale of Two Countries
As COVID-19 gradually comes under control in the US, we are becoming 2 countries: one that listends to science and medical advice, and another rather more backward. This leads to some startlingly disturbing contrasts in the news.
• Fri 2021-May-21: Wastewater Revisited: Metagenomic Viral RNA and Medical Loads
Last November, we looked at metagenomics of sewage SARS-CoV-2 RNA vs medical loads in Boston. The results then were inconclusive. There’s a lot more data now. Does the mRNA in sewage actually predict anything useful about COVID hospital admission, ICU admission, ventilator use, and death? Yes, it does.
• Wed 2021-May-12: More sense about vaccines from Hank Green
Hank Green once again has one or two true and useful words to say to young people about COVID-19 vaccination.
• Mon 2021-May-10: Dracula and the vaccine
Romania has one of the highest vaccine hesitancy rates in Europe, around 50%. They’re starting to get… creative.
• Thu 2021-May-06: Good news on vaccines vs variants!
Some good news, for once: the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is now known to work quite well against the British & South African variants in the real world. Especially in preventing hospitalization and death.
• Wed 2021-May-05: Immunity freedom day for the Weekend Editrix!
As of today, the esteemed Weekend Editrix is 2 weeks past her 2nd dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and thus as fully immunized as it’s possible to be right now. At 3pm EDT, she is officially out of COVID jail! Well, more or less…
• Fri 2021-Apr-30: CORVID 19
In Latin, “corvus” means crow. So the adjectival form used in biology for birds-such-as-crows is “corvid”. Sometimes people get confused in interesting ways.
• Sat 2021-Apr-24: The Billionth Dose
As of yesterday, we passed a remarkable milestone: the billionth COVID-19 vaccination dose has been administered.
• Fri 2021-Apr-23: JnJ Revenant
Today the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) today recommended restoring use of the JnJ COVID-19 vaccine with warnings, and thrombosis treatment guidelines for clinicians. The CDC & FDA agreed, and lifted the restrictions. This seems to be very much the correct conclusion, albeit one arrived at far too slowly.
• Wed 2021-Apr-21: Today the Weekend Editrix got shot (again)
Today the Weekend Editrix got shot. Again. (The good way.)
• Mon 2021-Apr-19: Politics vs mask use & vaccine uptake in the US
Does political alignment in the US inform medically-relevant behaviors like mask use and vaccine uptake? Alas, yes: but not in a good way.
• Fri 2021-Apr-16: Another study of clotting and COVID vaccines
Another study has come out, comparing clotting risks of COVID-19 and various vaccines versus each other. What are the risks? And can we interpret the study the obvious way, or not?
• Tue 2021-Apr-13: US pauses JnJ vaccine on thromboses
Today the US regulatory agencies “paused” the use of the JnJ COVID-19 vaccine to investigate thromboses, similar to what’s been seen with the AZ/OX vaccine. How many, how bad, and what will a pause do?
• Thu 2021-Apr-08: Reading the RNA in the Pfizer & Moderna vaccines
Have you ever wondered if you could make sense of the RNA code in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, if you could just read it? With some help, you can now do exactly that.
• Wed 2021-Apr-07: Immunity freedom day!
As of today, your humble Weekend Editor is 2 weeks past the 2nd dose of the Pfizer vaccine. At 5pm, I am officially out of COVID jail! Right? Not quite…
• Sat 2021-Apr-03: Pfizer/Moderna vaccine mRNA sequences posted on GitHub
Interestingly, some Stanford scientists saved a few drops of the Moderna vaccine, apparently ran them through their sequencers, and posted the sequences on GitHub.
• Fri 2021-Apr-02: Well, that didn't take long
As we’ve seen before, the biggest group of American vaccine refuseniks are White Republicans (especially men). Guess who’s swooping in to take up their vaccine supply?
• Wed 2021-Mar-31: Today the Weekend Editrix got shot
Today the Weekend Editrix got shot. The good way: Pfizer/BioNTech PF-07302048/BNT162b2.
• Tue 2021-Mar-30: Proposed Darwin Award for vaccine policy
Sometimes politicians pursue policies so breathtakingly out of touch with reality, you just don’t know what to say. (Understandably, because “breathtaking”.)
• Tue 2021-Mar-30: Variants vs Vaccines
SARS-CoV-2 is mutating, in increasingly dangerous ways. Can we keep up with booster vaccines for the variants, or even eliminate it once and for all?
• Wed 2021-Mar-24: Today I got shot (again)
Today I got shot (again). In the good sense: the second dose of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
• Tue 2021-Mar-23: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine trial (and its further discontents!)
Somebody asked me about the AstraZeneca press release on their new Phase 3 vaccine trial. AstraZeneca has done it again… just not in a good way.
• Mon 2021-Mar-22: The pandemic year in retrospect
Time for perspective: we’ve been stuck in a pandemic for a year now. What’s the best summary of your experience?
• Wed 2021-Mar-17: The AstraZeneca/Oxford Vaccine vs Blood Clots
Somebody asked me whether worries the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and dangerous blood clotting seen in some patients were a real problem. You know what the anti-vaxxers are gonna say; what do the data say?
• Wed 2021-Mar-10: Republicans vs Herd Immunity
If a large enough clade of US persons refuse COVID-19 vaccination, herd immunity may never be reached. Right now in the US, that clade seems to be White Republicans. (World-wide, it’s of course more complicated.)
• Mon 2021-Mar-08: I guess I like Dolly Parton?!
There is an apparently famous American country music singer named Dolly Parton. I was never a fan because… country music, ugh! But it appears I need to be a fan of the woman herself, because of her philanthropy and her encouragment of vaccination. Hmm… I had no idea.
• Wed 2021-Mar-03: Today I got shot
Today I got shot. No, not the bad way (though gun control is a legitimate issue in the US). I mean, with the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Getting the appointment (and the 2nd dose) was Kafkaesque. The actual medical experience was pretty ok.
• Fri 2021-Feb-26: Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 review by FDA external advisory committee
Today the J&J COVID-19 vaccine gets reviewed by VRBPAC (Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee) at the FDA, for an EUA (Emergency Use Authorization). Let’s have a look through their submission documents!
• Mon 2021-Feb-01: COVID-19 vaccines: the need for speed
Vaccine rollouts worldwide, with very few exceptions, have been slow & bungled. But we face a cruel equation: delay = death. Why do we tolerate this?
• Fri 2021-Jan-29: JnJ COVID-19 vaccine interim readout: 57% - 72% efficacy, depending on… SOMETHING
Today Johnson & Johnson/Janssen announced the interim readout (not final numbers!) of their adenovirus-vector based COVID-19 vaccine: 72% efficacy in the US, down to 57% efficacy in South Africa. We previously described the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna/Lonza vaccines as “beautiful”; this is “relatively pretty”. Pretty enough to do some good in the world, though.
• Sat 2021-Jan-16: Is 'natural' immunity any better than vaccine immunity to COVID-19?
Periodically, anti-vaxxers will say they prefer the ‘natural’ immunity acquired by recovering from a disease, because vaccines are ‘artificial’. Is that likely to be true for COVID-19? In a word: NO.
• Thu 2021-Jan-14: COVID-19 loves Republican politicians
Suppose you had 2 groups of politicians, but one of them thought a pandemic was “fake news”, refused to wear masks, congregated indoors with no social distancing, blocked public health spending, mocked public health guidance, was proud of their ignorance, and were just in general jerks about the subject. Do you think they’d get infected with the disease more often than their opponents?
• Sun 2021-Jan-03: Formal scientific publication of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Phase 3 trial
On 2020-Dec-30, the formal scientific publication of the Moderna’s COVID-19 Phase 3 trail in the prestigious New Englad Journal of Medicine dropped into public view. It’s good.
• Thu 2020-Dec-31: The mutant coronavirus: will the vaccines still work?
Somebody asked me whether the COVID-19 vaccines currently being used would work vs the mutant form of SARS-CoV-2 now driving COVID-19 in the UK. Looks like it probably will, though nobody really knows. What will definitely work: masking, social distancing, working from home, no gatherings beyond a single household, having adequate food & medicine stored, getting a flu vaccination, and not being a super-spreader of misinformation.
• Wed 2020-Dec-30: Serious adverse event frequency: about like getting struck by lightning?
Explaining to COVID vaccine clinical trial participants that the probability of a certain serious adverse event is 1/50,000 or less doesn’t work. Most people instantly stop listening at the slightest whiff of mathematics, including ordinary numbers. But if you compare it to being struck by lightning, that makes sense to most people. Can you guess what happened next?
• Mon 2020-Dec-28: You're scaring me
You all are scaring me, with your science denying, mask refusing, socially close quarters, holiday travelling ways. C’mon: wear a mask, socially distance, avoid indoor gatherings, get a flu shot. At least pretend to try you want to live until the vaccine is available, ok? Then maybe you won’t randomly kill the rest of us, who do want to live.
• Fri 2020-Dec-18: XKCD explains it all
Randall Munroe, the mad cartoonist behind XKCD, explains COVID-19 vaccine approvals. And channels Lord Rutherford. Simultaneously.
• Fri 2020-Dec-18: Moderna vaccine passes FDA external advisory committee!
Yesterday was also a good day: the FDA’s external advisory committee passed the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at 5:20pm EST on 2020-Dec-17. Late today, the FDA agreed and granted the Emergency Use Authorization.
• Tue 2020-Dec-15: Another beautiful vaccine: a look into the Moderna FDA EUA submission package
Somebody asked me about the contents of the Moderna EUA application for their COVID-19 vaccine. Summary: It is also quite beautiful.
• Sat 2020-Dec-12: Are the Pfizer vaccine's efficacy confidence intervals sensible?
Somebody asked me about the confidence intervals Pfizer reported for vaccine efficacy in various age groups. Some of them are negative! Are they sensible?
• Thu 2020-Dec-10: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine passes FDA external advisory committee!
Today is a good day: the FDA’s external advisory committee passed the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at 6:30pm EST.
• Tue 2020-Dec-08: A beautiful vaccine: a look into the Pfizer/BioNTech FDA EUA submission package
Ok, nobody asked me this time, because for once I got out ahead of them. It seems Pfizer/BioNTech submitted an EUA (“emergency use authorization”) package to the FDA. What’s it look like?
• Fri 2020-Nov-27: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine interim readout (and its discontents)
Somebody asked me about the early readout this week of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine Phase 3 trial. Initially they said 70% efficacy. It’s not a stunningly good 95% result like Pfizer or Moderna; still, it’s a good, craftsmanlike bit of work. But then… things got weird.
• Tue 2020-Nov-24: Some sense about vaccines from Hank Green
Hank Green (notable web producer, author, and master of miscellany) recorded his weekly vlog to his brother about whether he would take a COVID vaccine. Roughly: “oh hell yeah!” (though far more entertainingly).
• Wed 2020-Nov-18: On COVID vaccine protection persistence
Everybody’s worried about how long the protection from a COVID vaccine will last, whether there can be reinfections, and so on. How much do we actually know about that as of now?
• Mon 2020-Nov-16: Moderna/Lonza vaccine interim readout: 95% efficacy!
Today the Moderna/Lonza vaccine trial vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 95% efficacy! Also, 100% prevention of severe cases of COVID-19. Like last week’s Pfizer/BioNTech interim readout, this is again unabashedly good news.
• Mon 2020-Nov-09: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine interim readout: 90% efficacy!
Today the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 90% efficacy. This is unabashedly good news.
• Wed 2020-Nov-04: Wastewater coronavirus RNA vs medical loads
Previously, we mentioned there were data showing the level of coronavirus RNA in metro Boston wastewater, and speculated that it might be predictive of medical loads like hospitalization and death rates. The truth turns out to be weirder than that (comme d’habitude).
• Mon 2020-Nov-02: Coronavirus & Elections: The Winter of Our Discontent
The election is coming, with a possibility of right-wing violence and subversion. COVID-19 is forming up for another wave of infections. Winter is coming. It’s terrifying, but there are some things you can do.
• Thu 2020-Oct-15: Statins & ACE inhibitors & ARB blockers as COVID-19 therapeutics?
Somebody asked me (honest!) about a news item linking improved treatment outcomes for COVID-19 with patients using statin and ACE inhibitor drugs. Very preliminary stuff, and the effect size is not giant, but it is peer-reviewed and looks quite legit. Not gonna change the world, but even small bits of good news are welcome.
• Wed 2020-Sep-23: COVID points of hope and evaluating a vaccine
Looking for a glimmer of hope amid the COVID clouds? Worried about whether a vaccine will be appropriately safe & effective? You’ve come to the right place.
• Wed 2020-Sep-02: What's in the Moderna Q2 earnings call?
Somebody asked me (different “somebody” this time, though the same subject) about the Moderna Q2 earnings call. Do I look like I know the answer to questions like that?! On close inspection, though, it looks like a python swallowing a pig: a smallish company tackling a big problem with COVID vaccines.
• Sat 2020-Aug-01: What's happening in the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine phase 3 start?
Somebody asked me (really it’s the same “somebody” behind all of these) about the Moderna COVID vaccine phase 3 start. Basically, it looks like the start of a reasonably designed Phase 3 trial: the beginning of a long slog to test safety & efficacy.
• Wed 2020-Jul-15: What's in the Phase 1/2 readout of the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine?
Ok, so I finally tracked down the official Phase 1/2 readout of the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine (whose Phase 3 delay we commented on about 10 days ago). Here are some quick thoughts, but the top line seems to be very good.
• Sun 2020-Jul-05: And what about the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine Phase 3 delay?
Somebody asked me — same troublemakers, in case you’re curious — about whether the Moderna/Lonza Phase 1/2 vaccine trial looked reasonable and if the delay of Phase 3 start for a protocol amendment was reasonable. Sure seems so! No, it’s not an investment signal.
• Sat 2020-Jul-04: What's in the Phase 1/2 readout of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine?
Somebody asked me what’s in the Phase 1/2 readout of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine. Of course they wanted to know about the trial results, but they also wanted to know if it is an investment signal. It is not.

## Food:

• Thu 2022-Apr-28: Weekend Editrix Shot For the 7th Time
Today the Weekend Editrix got shot for the 7th time in the trailing 12 months, having gotten her 2nd booster for COVID-19.
• Thu 2022-Apr-14: Passover & Late-Stage Capitalism
So, it’s Passover. What might late-stage capitalism have to say about that?
• Tue 2021-Oct-05: The Man Who Wins New England Autumn
Today I learned of a hero, engaged in a Great Work that is clearly a service to all humanity. Oh, and there were donuts, too.
• Thu 2021-Sep-02: Are we wasting too much COVID-19 vaccine?
Today comes news that we’ve wasted about 15.1 million doses of COVID-19 doses here in the US. Is that a lot, or a little? How does it compare with history? Is the difference, if any, just random or is it real, i.e., statistically significant?

## Investing:

• Sat 2021-Jun-19: The Weekend Retirement Portfolio
After reading my rant on the superiority of Treasury bonds vs corporate bonds as a stock diversifier, of course somebody asked me what the retirement portfolio of the denizens of Chez Weekend looked like. Basically: index funds, heavily diversified across bond types, stock sizes, valuations, and nations.
• Mon 2021-Jun-07: Stock Diversifiers: Treasury vs Corporate Bonds?
If you invest in US stocks, you certainly want to diversify with some bonds for risk control, availability of funds for rebalancing, and earning some income. Should you use Treasury bonds (which earn approximately nothing, but are safe) or corporate bonds (which earn something, but are riskier)?
• Tue 2021-Jun-01: Bayes Rule vs The Millionaire Next Door
Somebody asked me (back in 2012!) about the famous book, The Millionaire Next Door. It’s good as far as it goes; it just doesn’t go nearly as far as almost everybody thinks!

## JournalClub:

• Tue 2022-May-03: How Can Evusheld Possibly Work?!
Evusheld is an antibody infusion which confers about 6 months of vaccine-like immunity to COVID-19. How can that possibly work, when antibodies last a few days to a few weeks?!
• Sun 2022-May-01: It's Always Been 2 Americas for COVID-19
COVID-19 has brought to light a lot of disparities in the US. Today’s scientific paper is about just how certainly we know the Trumpy parts of the country, especially the South, were COVID-19 disasters: hundreds of thousands of excess deaths due to mask defiance, vaccine refusal, and malign conservative disinformation.
• Mon 2022-Apr-18: Ivermectin vs Strongyloidiasis Paper Published
Somebody asked me about the evidence associating putative ivermectin effects with worms, not COVID-19. Seems like it’s been finally published!
• Mon 2022-Mar-07: Ivermectin Revenant
Somebody asked about a recently published abstract comparing ivermectin vs remdesivir in treating COVID-19. (Sigh.)
• Mon 2022-Feb-07: SARS-CoV2 Cryptic Sequences in NYC Wastewater: Why Not to Sleep Well at Night
As long as we’ve got our heads in the sewers, what else is happening with wastewater SARS-CoV2 analyses? It turns out, New York City rather alarmingly has some “cryptic sequences” not yet observed in humans. This is how the virus is scheming to throw another wave at us.
• Thu 2022-Jan-06: Reeeeeeally long COVID!
How long can COVID-19 go on? If you answered less than $O(10^4)$ years until everyone with susceptible genes is dead… well, think again.
• Fri 2021-Nov-19: A Couple Ivermectin Takedowns
The right-wing knuckleheadedness around ivermectin as a COVID-19 therapy continues to amaze me. This week I came across 2 ivermectin takedowns: a Malaysian clinical trial and Scott Alexander’s dissection of the ivmmeta.com metanalysis. Two thumbs down. Way down.
• Tue 2021-Nov-09: On kids and vaccines: ending the pandemic
If you think we can end the pandemic without vaccinating kids because they tend not to get so sick… think again. Try harder this time.
• Mon 2021-Nov-01: When Was the Norse Settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland?
Hey, let’s think about something that’s not COVID-19! Like, for example: when exactly did the Norse settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland happen?
• Sat 2021-Oct-30: The Partisan Divide on COVID-19 Deaths
COVID-19 death rates in the US are nakedly partisan. So is mask resistance. So is delusional belief about nonsensical use of ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. Care to draw a conclusion?
• Mon 2021-Oct-18: Vaccine Mandate Origins in the US
The history of why vaccine mandates are in fact constitutional in the United States has a long, somewhat twisted history. It’s also of local interest, here at Chez Weekend, as many of the important events transpired a short MBTA ride away.
• Sun 2021-Aug-29: Vaccination vs Hospitalization Rates: Simpson's Paradox
Somebody asked me about why the vaccines are high efficacy with rare breakthrough infections, but we can see a high fraction of the hospitalized are vaccinated? Right, very puzzling. Then somebody else asked me what I thought of an article about Simpson’s paradox in the context of COVID. Ding, ding, ding, ding!
• Wed 2021-Aug-18: COVID-19 Vaccines and Alzheimers: Analyzing the Myth
Somebody asked me about whether the COVID-19 vaccines prevented Alzheimers. Wait, what?
• Tue 2021-Aug-17: COVID-19 Vaccines and Infertility: Analyzing the Myth
Somebody asked me about whether the COVID-19 vaccine could cause infertility. Wait, what?
• Mon 2021-Jul-19: COVID-19 Vaccination is Better Than Natural Immunity
Periodically I meet people who think “natural” immunity from having had COVID-19 is somehow better than being vaccinated. A new Israeli study plumbs the depths of just how wrong that is.
• Tue 2021-Jun-01: Bayes Rule vs The Millionaire Next Door
Somebody asked me (back in 2012!) about the famous book, The Millionaire Next Door. It’s good as far as it goes; it just doesn’t go nearly as far as almost everybody thinks!
• Thu 2021-May-06: Good news on vaccines vs variants!
Some good news, for once: the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is now known to work quite well against the British & South African variants in the real world. Especially in preventing hospitalization and death.
• Fri 2021-Apr-16: Another study of clotting and COVID vaccines
Another study has come out, comparing clotting risks of COVID-19 and various vaccines versus each other. What are the risks? And can we interpret the study the obvious way, or not?
• Wed 2021-Mar-17: The AstraZeneca/Oxford Vaccine vs Blood Clots
Somebody asked me whether worries the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and dangerous blood clotting seen in some patients were a real problem. You know what the anti-vaxxers are gonna say; what do the data say?
• Sat 2021-Jan-16: Is 'natural' immunity any better than vaccine immunity to COVID-19?
Periodically, anti-vaxxers will say they prefer the ‘natural’ immunity acquired by recovering from a disease, because vaccines are ‘artificial’. Is that likely to be true for COVID-19? In a word: NO.
• Thu 2020-Dec-31: The mutant coronavirus: will the vaccines still work?
Somebody asked me whether the COVID-19 vaccines currently being used would work vs the mutant form of SARS-CoV-2 now driving COVID-19 in the UK. Looks like it probably will, though nobody really knows. What will definitely work: masking, social distancing, working from home, no gatherings beyond a single household, having adequate food & medicine stored, getting a flu vaccination, and not being a super-spreader of misinformation.
• Wed 2020-Nov-18: On COVID vaccine protection persistence
Everybody’s worried about how long the protection from a COVID vaccine will last, whether there can be reinfections, and so on. How much do we actually know about that as of now?
• Thu 2020-Oct-15: Statins & ACE inhibitors & ARB blockers as COVID-19 therapeutics?
Somebody asked me (honest!) about a news item linking improved treatment outcomes for COVID-19 with patients using statin and ACE inhibitor drugs. Very preliminary stuff, and the effect size is not giant, but it is peer-reviewed and looks quite legit. Not gonna change the world, but even small bits of good news are welcome.

## Math:

• Mon 2022-Mar-14: Reflection on Pi Day
Today is Pi Day (3/14), so we reflect upon π.
• Wed 2021-Dec-15: Tis the Season… of the Analemma
It’s that season again: the time of nerdly meditations on the analemma. The shortest day of the year, Dec 21, is yet to come. But for night owls, the day of earliest sunset (at the latitude of Château Weekend) was Dec 8th. How can that be? That’s the tale of the analemma!
• Thu 2021-Dec-02: Mea Culpa: Efficacies Don't Average!
A couple days ago, commenting at TheZvi, I blithely averaged efficacies from the early and late cohorts of the molnupiravir trial. Fellow commenter Thomas pointed out that this is not correct! This post is a mea culpa and a lesson to myself on How to Do It Right.
• Mon 2021-Nov-01: When Was the Norse Settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland?
Hey, let’s think about something that’s not COVID-19! Like, for example: when exactly did the Norse settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland happen?
• Fri 2021-Oct-15: FDA Considers COVID-19 Boosters for J&J and Mix/Match Boosters
Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets to review the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen application for 2nd dose boosters of their COVID-19 vaccine. They will also at least discuss the 3x3 mix-and-match booster study.
• Thu 2021-Oct-14: FDA Considers COVID-19 Boosters for Moderna Spikevax
Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets to review the Moderna application for 3rd dose boosters of their COVID-19 vaccine, Spikevax. Wonderful name aside, there should be a good case to be made as well.
• Fri 2021-Sep-17: FDA Considers COVID-19 Boosters for Pfizer Comirnaty
Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets to review the Pfizer/BioNTech application for 3rd dose boosters of their COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty. Opinion is divided, so there will be some arguing. I’m makin’ popcorn.
• Mon 2021-Sep-13: On the ratio of Beta-distributed random variables
[Warning: Post contains full frontal nerdity. Bug reports appreciated!] I finally got a copy of Pham-Gia’s paper on the distribution of the ratio of 2 independent Beta-distributed random variables. While I still have some childhood trauma around hypergeometric functions like ${}_{2}F_{1}()$ and its even scarier big brother ${}_{3}F_{2}()$… it’s time to face my fears.
• Sun 2021-Mar-14: Pi Day: Are you still using decimal notation?!
Today is Pi Day (3/14). You’re not still using decimal, are you?
• Mon 2020-Dec-21: Winter solstice, Dodds's Day, and the Weekend Editrix's Day
Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. It is not, however, the day of earliest sunset (of interest to night owls). Nor is it the day of latest sunrise (of interest to morning… people). Therein lies the tale of the analemma, first told to me long ago by a marvelous former colleague, Doug Dodds.
• Fri 2020-Aug-07: What's that stupid avatar?
Somebody asked me, “What’s that stupid avatar on your blog?” It’s a reminder that even simple questions show infinite complexity if you look closely enough. And sometimes even if you don’t!
• Mon 2020-Jul-20: Math test post
Just seeing if I can make the math typesetting work. Nothing to see here, kid… move along.
• Sat 2020-Jul-18: Lord Kelvin on quantitative knowledge
Qualitative knowledge is real, but… quantitative knowledge is almost always better.

## MathInTheNews:

• Wed 2022-May-11: Which Arm Gets the Booster?
A burning question for everybody who’s gotten a booster, or wants one: the same arm, or the other arm?
• Sun 2022-May-08: The Highest-Vaccination Ethnic Group in the US, Redux
Remember last year when we noted the highest-vaccination ethnic group in the US? They’re still winning, and it shows in the statistics.
• Tue 2022-May-03: How Can Evusheld Possibly Work?!
Evusheld is an antibody infusion which confers about 6 months of vaccine-like immunity to COVID-19. How can that possibly work, when antibodies last a few days to a few weeks?!
• Mon 2022-May-02: No Masks + New Wave = ?
Somehow we’ve stumbled into striking down mask mandates. Who did that? AND is it ok, with the next wave situation of SARS-CoV2? Do you even have to guess?
• Sun 2022-May-01: It's Always Been 2 Americas for COVID-19
COVID-19 has brought to light a lot of disparities in the US. Today’s scientific paper is about just how certainly we know the Trumpy parts of the country, especially the South, were COVID-19 disasters: hundreds of thousands of excess deaths due to mask defiance, vaccine refusal, and malign conservative disinformation.
• Mon 2022-Apr-18: Ivermectin vs Strongyloidiasis Paper Published
Somebody asked me about the evidence associating putative ivermectin effects with worms, not COVID-19. Seems like it’s been finally published!
• Fri 2022-Apr-01: Today: Shot for the 7th time
Today I got my 7th vaccination shot in the last 12 months. Happily.
• Fri 2022-Mar-18: COVID-19: Lessons Learned & Another Booster
We would like to think we’ve learned a few things from our collective COVID-19 experience, but the evidence is somewhat equivocal. What we’ve definitely learned is that there will almost certainly be another booster.
• Wed 2022-Mar-09: Rethinking NPIs and Vaccinations
People are clamoring for an end to “restrictions”, by which they mean masks and closures. And, of course, vaccination mandates. They’re eager to be done with COVID-19, whether COVID-19 is done with them or not. Does any of that make sense? Well… some of it… maybe.
• Wed 2022-Feb-09: On the Moderna Monkey Trial of Omicron-Specific Boosters
Somebody asked me about a report that Moderna’s monkey trial of an Omicron-specific booster wasn’t any better than the existing vaccine. What should we think about that?
• Fri 2022-Feb-04: Boston Wastewater Re-Re-Visited: Sewage Viral RNA vs COVID-19 Cases and Deaths
In 2020-November and 2021-May, we looked at the SARS-CoV2 mRNA in Boston wastewater. It’s relation to medical loads was erratic. How’s it look with another 9 months of data?
• Fri 2022-Jan-28: The Ten Billionth Dose
There have now been around 10 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses given. What should we make of that?
• Tue 2021-Dec-14: Veni, veni paxlovid!
Today Pfizer announced they’ve submitted the final data package to the FDA for their COVID-19 anti-viral oral therapy, paxlovid. Wanna take a look at the (scant) data we have so far, as a holiday gift of sorts to all of humanity?
• Mon 2021-Dec-06: Omicron vs Delta
Will the Omicron variant outcompete Delta? Starting to look like it. Will that be a bad thing? Dunno, could go either way depending on reinfection rate and severity.
• Thu 2021-Dec-02: Mea Culpa: Efficacies Don't Average!
A couple days ago, commenting at TheZvi, I blithely averaged efficacies from the early and late cohorts of the molnupiravir trial. Fellow commenter Thomas pointed out that this is not correct! This post is a mea culpa and a lesson to myself on How to Do It Right.
• Tue 2021-Nov-30: FDA AMDAC Considers Merck's Molnupiravir
Today the FDA’s Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee (AMDAC) meets to decide whether or not to recommend emergency use authorization (EUA) of Merck’s molnupiravir, and antiviral therapy for mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults. Wanna read along?
• Sat 2021-Nov-27: So, nu? (I mean… So, omicron?)
There’s a new SARS-CoV2 variant. How bad does it look? Nobody really knows, but it’s got the potential to be very, very bad.
• Tue 2021-Nov-23: COVID-19: Is it 'over'?
With vaccination rates rising (albeit glacially slowly), and new therapeutics like molnupiravir and paxlovid about to be approved, people are asking: is it over? My take is: probably not.
• Fri 2021-Nov-19: A Couple Ivermectin Takedowns
The right-wing knuckleheadedness around ivermectin as a COVID-19 therapy continues to amaze me. This week I came across 2 ivermectin takedowns: a Malaysian clinical trial and Scott Alexander’s dissection of the ivmmeta.com metanalysis. Two thumbs down. Way down.
• Fri 2021-Nov-12: On New COVID-19 Therapeutics
Vaccines are great, but now there are some exciting new treatments for COVID-19, in case you get a breakthrough infection (or made the wrong choice about accepting vaccination). Let’s look at how well they work, and what they might cost in comparison to other things.
• Tue 2021-Oct-26: FDA VRBPAC Considers Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids 5 – 11
Today the FDA’s Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) meets to discuss an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty for children ages 5 – 11. Lots of parents have been awaiting this for the last year and a half, with varying degress of frayed nerves.
• Fri 2021-Oct-15: FDA Considers COVID-19 Boosters for J&J and Mix/Match Boosters
Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets to review the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen application for 2nd dose boosters of their COVID-19 vaccine. They will also at least discuss the 3x3 mix-and-match booster study.
• Thu 2021-Oct-14: FDA Considers COVID-19 Boosters for Moderna Spikevax
Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets to review the Moderna application for 3rd dose boosters of their COVID-19 vaccine, Spikevax. Wonderful name aside, there should be a good case to be made as well.
• Mon 2021-Oct-04: COVID-19 Miscellany
Do you want the good news first?
• Fri 2021-Sep-17: FDA Considers COVID-19 Boosters for Pfizer Comirnaty
Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets to review the Pfizer/BioNTech application for 3rd dose boosters of their COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty. Opinion is divided, so there will be some arguing. I’m makin’ popcorn.
• Thu 2021-Sep-02: Are we wasting too much COVID-19 vaccine?
Today comes news that we’ve wasted about 15.1 million doses of COVID-19 doses here in the US. Is that a lot, or a little? How does it compare with history? Is the difference, if any, just random or is it real, i.e., statistically significant?
• Sun 2021-Aug-29: Vaccination vs Hospitalization Rates: Simpson's Paradox
Somebody asked me about why the vaccines are high efficacy with rare breakthrough infections, but we can see a high fraction of the hospitalized are vaccinated? Right, very puzzling. Then somebody else asked me what I thought of an article about Simpson’s paradox in the context of COVID. Ding, ding, ding, ding!
• Wed 2021-Aug-18: COVID-19 Vaccines and Alzheimers: Analyzing the Myth
Somebody asked me about whether the COVID-19 vaccines prevented Alzheimers. Wait, what?
• Tue 2021-Aug-17: COVID-19 Vaccines and Infertility: Analyzing the Myth
Somebody asked me about whether the COVID-19 vaccine could cause infertility. Wait, what?
• Wed 2021-Aug-04: Vaccine Efficacy, Delta Variant, and the CDC Changes
Last week several bombs were dropped: COVID vaccine efficacy with the Delta variant, breakthrough infections, asymptomatic carriers, and changes in CDC guidelines. Was the panicky media coverage at all useful?
• Mon 2021-Jul-19: COVID-19 Vaccination is Better Than Natural Immunity
Periodically I meet people who think “natural” immunity from having had COVID-19 is somehow better than being vaccinated. A new Israeli study plumbs the depths of just how wrong that is.
• Fri 2021-Jul-16: The Highest-Vaccination Ethnic Group in the US
What ethnic group in the US do you think has the highest vaccination rate?
• Mon 2021-Jul-12: Thoughts on Variants & Vaccines
The variants are starting to pile up. Unless we vaccinate everybody faster, there are going to be variants which evade vaccines and then we start all over. How close are we to that?
• Tue 2021-Jul-06: Vaccinations vs Votes
Back in April, we did some statistical analysis showing Trumpy states tended to have dramatically lower vaccination rates. Is that still the case? Regrettably, yes: more than ever.
• Mon 2021-Jun-07: Stock Diversifiers: Treasury vs Corporate Bonds?
If you invest in US stocks, you certainly want to diversify with some bonds for risk control, availability of funds for rebalancing, and earning some income. Should you use Treasury bonds (which earn approximately nothing, but are safe) or corporate bonds (which earn something, but are riskier)?
• Tue 2021-Jun-01: Bayes Rule vs The Millionaire Next Door
Somebody asked me (back in 2012!) about the famous book, The Millionaire Next Door. It’s good as far as it goes; it just doesn’t go nearly as far as almost everybody thinks!
• Fri 2021-May-21: Wastewater Revisited: Metagenomic Viral RNA and Medical Loads
Last November, we looked at metagenomics of sewage SARS-CoV-2 RNA vs medical loads in Boston. The results then were inconclusive. There’s a lot more data now. Does the mRNA in sewage actually predict anything useful about COVID hospital admission, ICU admission, ventilator use, and death? Yes, it does.
• Thu 2021-May-06: Good news on vaccines vs variants!
Some good news, for once: the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is now known to work quite well against the British & South African variants in the real world. Especially in preventing hospitalization and death.
• Sat 2021-Apr-24: The Billionth Dose
As of yesterday, we passed a remarkable milestone: the billionth COVID-19 vaccination dose has been administered.
• Fri 2021-Apr-23: JnJ Revenant
Today the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) today recommended restoring use of the JnJ COVID-19 vaccine with warnings, and thrombosis treatment guidelines for clinicians. The CDC & FDA agreed, and lifted the restrictions. This seems to be very much the correct conclusion, albeit one arrived at far too slowly.
• Mon 2021-Apr-19: Politics vs mask use & vaccine uptake in the US
Does political alignment in the US inform medically-relevant behaviors like mask use and vaccine uptake? Alas, yes: but not in a good way.
• Fri 2021-Apr-16: Another study of clotting and COVID vaccines
Another study has come out, comparing clotting risks of COVID-19 and various vaccines versus each other. What are the risks? And can we interpret the study the obvious way, or not?
• Tue 2021-Apr-13: US pauses JnJ vaccine on thromboses
Today the US regulatory agencies “paused” the use of the JnJ COVID-19 vaccine to investigate thromboses, similar to what’s been seen with the AZ/OX vaccine. How many, how bad, and what will a pause do?
• Thu 2021-Apr-08: Reading the RNA in the Pfizer & Moderna vaccines
Have you ever wondered if you could make sense of the RNA code in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, if you could just read it? With some help, you can now do exactly that.
• Mon 2021-Mar-22: The pandemic year in retrospect
Time for perspective: we’ve been stuck in a pandemic for a year now. What’s the best summary of your experience?
• Wed 2021-Mar-17: The AstraZeneca/Oxford Vaccine vs Blood Clots
Somebody asked me whether worries the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and dangerous blood clotting seen in some patients were a real problem. You know what the anti-vaxxers are gonna say; what do the data say?
• Mon 2021-Mar-15: US Senate: does one party filibuster more?
Sen McConnell claims the Democrats abuse the filibuster! (Because of course he does.) But what do the data say?
• Wed 2021-Mar-10: Republicans vs Herd Immunity
If a large enough clade of US persons refuse COVID-19 vaccination, herd immunity may never be reached. Right now in the US, that clade seems to be White Republicans. (World-wide, it’s of course more complicated.)
• Wed 2021-Feb-24: Why did Republicans block a Trump impeachment guilty verdict?
It’s been a couple weeks, so we’ve all calmed down a little. But still… why did 43 Republican senators vote to block the obvious guilty verdict in Trump’s impeachment?
• Thu 2021-Feb-11: Impeachment actions: sine qua non
So. US politics: it seems The Creature is being impeached. Again. What can we do to make sure the impeachment makes a difference this time?
• Mon 2021-Feb-01: COVID-19 vaccines: the need for speed
Vaccine rollouts worldwide, with very few exceptions, have been slow & bungled. But we face a cruel equation: delay = death. Why do we tolerate this?
• Sat 2021-Jan-16: Is 'natural' immunity any better than vaccine immunity to COVID-19?
Periodically, anti-vaxxers will say they prefer the ‘natural’ immunity acquired by recovering from a disease, because vaccines are ‘artificial’. Is that likely to be true for COVID-19? In a word: NO.
• Thu 2021-Jan-14: COVID-19 loves Republican politicians
Suppose you had 2 groups of politicians, but one of them thought a pandemic was “fake news”, refused to wear masks, congregated indoors with no social distancing, blocked public health spending, mocked public health guidance, was proud of their ignorance, and were just in general jerks about the subject. Do you think they’d get infected with the disease more often than their opponents?
• Sun 2021-Jan-03: Formal scientific publication of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Phase 3 trial
On 2020-Dec-30, the formal scientific publication of the Moderna’s COVID-19 Phase 3 trail in the prestigious New Englad Journal of Medicine dropped into public view. It’s good.
• Thu 2020-Dec-31: The mutant coronavirus: will the vaccines still work?
Somebody asked me whether the COVID-19 vaccines currently being used would work vs the mutant form of SARS-CoV-2 now driving COVID-19 in the UK. Looks like it probably will, though nobody really knows. What will definitely work: masking, social distancing, working from home, no gatherings beyond a single household, having adequate food & medicine stored, getting a flu vaccination, and not being a super-spreader of misinformation.
• Wed 2020-Dec-30: Serious adverse event frequency: about like getting struck by lightning?
Explaining to COVID vaccine clinical trial participants that the probability of a certain serious adverse event is 1/50,000 or less doesn’t work. Most people instantly stop listening at the slightest whiff of mathematics, including ordinary numbers. But if you compare it to being struck by lightning, that makes sense to most people. Can you guess what happened next?
• Mon 2020-Dec-28: You're scaring me
You all are scaring me, with your science denying, mask refusing, socially close quarters, holiday travelling ways. C’mon: wear a mask, socially distance, avoid indoor gatherings, get a flu shot. At least pretend to try you want to live until the vaccine is available, ok? Then maybe you won’t randomly kill the rest of us, who do want to live.
• Fri 2020-Dec-18: XKCD explains it all
Randall Munroe, the mad cartoonist behind XKCD, explains COVID-19 vaccine approvals. And channels Lord Rutherford. Simultaneously.
• Tue 2020-Dec-15: Another beautiful vaccine: a look into the Moderna FDA EUA submission package
Somebody asked me about the contents of the Moderna EUA application for their COVID-19 vaccine. Summary: It is also quite beautiful.
• Sat 2020-Dec-12: Are the Pfizer vaccine's efficacy confidence intervals sensible?
Somebody asked me about the confidence intervals Pfizer reported for vaccine efficacy in various age groups. Some of them are negative! Are they sensible?
• Tue 2020-Dec-08: A beautiful vaccine: a look into the Pfizer/BioNTech FDA EUA submission package
Ok, nobody asked me this time, because for once I got out ahead of them. It seems Pfizer/BioNTech submitted an EUA (“emergency use authorization”) package to the FDA. What’s it look like?
• Mon 2020-Nov-30: What size were the factions in the US election?
So we just had an election. You may have heard there were some rather sharply drawn sides. How big were each of the factions?
• Fri 2020-Nov-27: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine interim readout (and its discontents)
Somebody asked me about the early readout this week of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine Phase 3 trial. Initially they said 70% efficacy. It’s not a stunningly good 95% result like Pfizer or Moderna; still, it’s a good, craftsmanlike bit of work. But then… things got weird.
• Wed 2020-Nov-18: On COVID vaccine protection persistence
Everybody’s worried about how long the protection from a COVID vaccine will last, whether there can be reinfections, and so on. How much do we actually know about that as of now?
• Mon 2020-Nov-16: Moderna/Lonza vaccine interim readout: 95% efficacy!
Today the Moderna/Lonza vaccine trial vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 95% efficacy! Also, 100% prevention of severe cases of COVID-19. Like last week’s Pfizer/BioNTech interim readout, this is again unabashedly good news.
• Mon 2020-Nov-09: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine interim readout: 90% efficacy!
Today the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 90% efficacy. This is unabashedly good news.
• Wed 2020-Nov-04: Wastewater coronavirus RNA vs medical loads
Previously, we mentioned there were data showing the level of coronavirus RNA in metro Boston wastewater, and speculated that it might be predictive of medical loads like hospitalization and death rates. The truth turns out to be weirder than that (comme d’habitude).
• Mon 2020-Nov-02: Coronavirus & Elections: The Winter of Our Discontent
The election is coming, with a possibility of right-wing violence and subversion. COVID-19 is forming up for another wave of infections. Winter is coming. It’s terrifying, but there are some things you can do.
• Fri 2020-Oct-02: Election Night of the Living Beta Binomials
As you may have heard, the US is about to face an election more contentious than any since the Civil War. With vote counting likely drawn out due to right-wing mischief at, for example, the Post Office, what are we to make of partial returns as far as predicting the outcome? And will there be zombies?
• Fri 2020-Jul-03: Is the racial makeup of the Boston Police Department unrepresentative?

## MeaCulpa:

• Tue 2022-Mar-01: Ukraine & Russia: A Lack of Thoughts
Somebody asked me why I haven’t said anything about the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Well…
• Thu 2021-Dec-02: Mea Culpa: Efficacies Don't Average!
A couple days ago, commenting at TheZvi, I blithely averaged efficacies from the early and late cohorts of the molnupiravir trial. Fellow commenter Thomas pointed out that this is not correct! This post is a mea culpa and a lesson to myself on How to Do It Right.

## NotableAndQuotable:

• Sat 2022-Mar-19: Some Unexpected Inspiration on Russia & Ukraine
Today I came across an unexpected source of encouragement in the matter of Russia and Ukraine.
• Mon 2022-Jan-17: MLK Day 2022
Today in the US is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when we honor the civil rights advocate who pushed for rights for racial minorities and the poor, for which he was assassinated. How best should that honor be expressed?
• Fri 2022-Jan-07: Tech Skepticism
It’s fashionable lately to be skeptical about technology. (Of everything, really.) Sometimes we don’t realize how deep are the roots of suspicion of innovation, and (usually) how wrong.
• Sun 2021-Sep-26: Petrov Day #38: Remembering the Day the World Did NOT End
Today the world did not end. That’s 38 times in a row, now.
• Sat 2021-Sep-11: On war memorials
Today marks 2 decades since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in NYC, the Pentagon in DC, and a third target that was spared because airline passengers forced a crash in Shanksville, PA. It also marks, with the recent US withdrawal from Afghanistan, at least a winding down, though possibly not a complete ending, of 20 years of war. It’s time to think about war memorials… sort of.
• Wed 2021-May-12: More sense about vaccines from Hank Green
Hank Green once again has one or two true and useful words to say to young people about COVID-19 vaccination.
• Tue 2020-Nov-24: Some sense about vaccines from Hank Green
Hank Green (notable web producer, author, and master of miscellany) recorded his weekly vlog to his brother about whether he would take a COVID vaccine. Roughly: “oh hell yeah!” (though far more entertainingly).
• Sat 2020-Sep-26: Petrov Day — The Day the World Didn't End
Today we commemorate 1983-Sep-26: the day Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov prevented the end the world. Go thou forth and do likewise: save as much of the world as you can.
• Sat 2020-Jul-18: Lord Kelvin on quantitative knowledge
Qualitative knowledge is real, but… quantitative knowledge is almost always better.
• Thu 2020-Jul-02: The Retirement of Iphegenia

## Obscurantism:

• Fri 2022-May-13: But What's in Your Heart?!
A plaintive cry I hear with regrettable frequency from non-science/non-math types is that we are all heartless. “But what’s really in your heart?!” they whine. Today, I’ll show you.
• Sat 2022-Apr-16: The Perks of a PhD in Finland
Today I found out that I missed out a bit by getting my PhD anywhere but Finland.
Somebody asked me to put a headshot up on this crummy little blog that nobody reads (CLBTNR). No idea why, but…
• Fri 2022-Mar-11: XKCD: Qua
XKCD qua XKCD is just XKCD. Latin does things to your mind.
• Tue 2022-Feb-15: Sustaining Spirit in Hard Times: People are Complicated
Times are difficult, here in the 3rd year of a global pandemic that drags on and on, because people just cannot grasp the importance of public health measures and vaccination. Anything that sustains our spirit and our belief in a good core of human nature is important. So why am I looking at dog statues on bridges in Prague?
• Fri 2022-Jan-07: Tech Skepticism
It’s fashionable lately to be skeptical about technology. (Of everything, really.) Sometimes we don’t realize how deep are the roots of suspicion of innovation, and (usually) how wrong.
• Wed 2021-Dec-15: Tis the Season… of the Analemma
It’s that season again: the time of nerdly meditations on the analemma. The shortest day of the year, Dec 21, is yet to come. But for night owls, the day of earliest sunset (at the latitude of Château Weekend) was Dec 8th. How can that be? That’s the tale of the analemma!
• Mon 2021-May-03: Reviewing Google Translate for These Blog Posts
A few weeks ago, we hooked up Google Translate for this blog. It’s time to review how well it’s been working… or not.
• Fri 2021-Apr-30: CORVID 19
In Latin, “corvus” means crow. So the adjectival form used in biology for birds-such-as-crows is “corvid”. Sometimes people get confused in interesting ways.
• Mon 2020-Dec-21: Winter solstice, Dodds's Day, and the Weekend Editrix's Day
Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. It is not, however, the day of earliest sunset (of interest to night owls). Nor is it the day of latest sunrise (of interest to morning… people). Therein lies the tale of the analemma, first told to me long ago by a marvelous former colleague, Doug Dodds.
• Mon 2020-Jul-20: Math test post
Just seeing if I can make the math typesetting work. Nothing to see here, kid… move along.
• Sat 2020-Jul-18: Lord Kelvin on quantitative knowledge
Qualitative knowledge is real, but… quantitative knowledge is almost always better.
• Thu 2020-Jul-02: The Retirement of Iphegenia

## PharmaAndBiotech:

• Thu 2022-May-12: What's in the Moderna 2022-Q1 Earnings Call?
Apparently Moderna just had an earnings call, and there was some talk of whether multivalent Omicron boosters could be available in time for fall/winter 2022/2023.
• Wed 2022-May-11: Which Arm Gets the Booster?
A burning question for everybody who’s gotten a booster, or wants one: the same arm, or the other arm?
• Tue 2022-May-10: Compassion for the Unvaccinated
I have a hard time controlling my anger at the unvaccinated, the spreaders of disinformation, and the superstitious for prolonging the pandemic and killing people world-wide. Others, who are likely better people than me, have managed to find another way.
• Sun 2022-May-08: The Highest-Vaccination Ethnic Group in the US, Redux
Remember last year when we noted the highest-vaccination ethnic group in the US? They’re still winning, and it shows in the statistics.
• Tue 2022-May-03: How Can Evusheld Possibly Work?!
Evusheld is an antibody infusion which confers about 6 months of vaccine-like immunity to COVID-19. How can that possibly work, when antibodies last a few days to a few weeks?!
• Mon 2022-May-02: No Masks + New Wave = ?
Somehow we’ve stumbled into striking down mask mandates. Who did that? AND is it ok, with the next wave situation of SARS-CoV2? Do you even have to guess?
• Sun 2022-May-01: It's Always Been 2 Americas for COVID-19
COVID-19 has brought to light a lot of disparities in the US. Today’s scientific paper is about just how certainly we know the Trumpy parts of the country, especially the South, were COVID-19 disasters: hundreds of thousands of excess deaths due to mask defiance, vaccine refusal, and malign conservative disinformation.
• Sat 2022-Apr-30: Preventive Paxlovid Fails
Pfizer just read out a Phase 2/3 trial of paxlovid for preventing transmission of COVID-19 to other members of a household when one member is infected. Alas: nope.
• Thu 2022-Apr-28: Weekend Editrix Shot For the 7th Time
Today the Weekend Editrix got shot for the 7th time in the trailing 12 months, having gotten her 2nd booster for COVID-19.
• Mon 2022-Apr-25: Japan's Shionogi Ltd. Has Another COVID-19 Antiviral in Late-Stage Trials
Some good news: there’s now another COVID-19 antiviral drug candidate that has the same target as paxlovid in late clinical trials.
• Mon 2022-Apr-18: Ivermectin vs Strongyloidiasis Paper Published
Somebody asked me about the evidence associating putative ivermectin effects with worms, not COVID-19. Seems like it’s been finally published!
• Fri 2022-Apr-08: FDA VRBPAC Meeting on Booster & Vaccine Variant Policy
This week the FDA’S Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) met to consider future policy for vaccine boosters and variants for the future.
• Fri 2022-Apr-01: Today: Shot for the 7th time
Today I got my 7th vaccination shot in the last 12 months. Happily.
• Fri 2022-Mar-25: On the Tension Between Hope and Despair
I feel I’m walking a knife-edge between hope and despair. The news is not helping.
• Fri 2022-Mar-18: COVID-19: Lessons Learned & Another Booster
We would like to think we’ve learned a few things from our collective COVID-19 experience, but the evidence is somewhat equivocal. What we’ve definitely learned is that there will almost certainly be another booster.
• Wed 2022-Mar-09: Rethinking NPIs and Vaccinations
People are clamoring for an end to “restrictions”, by which they mean masks and closures. And, of course, vaccination mandates. They’re eager to be done with COVID-19, whether COVID-19 is done with them or not. Does any of that make sense? Well… some of it… maybe.
• Mon 2022-Mar-07: Ivermectin Revenant
Somebody asked about a recently published abstract comparing ivermectin vs remdesivir in treating COVID-19. (Sigh.)
• Fri 2022-Mar-04: On the Difficulty of Making Paxlovid
Somebody asked me why we don’t have enough paxlovid or bebtelovimab to go around. After mumbling “something something supply chain”, they ask another question: why can’t we just make more, and faster? Far from being naïve, that’s a very good question.
• Sat 2022-Feb-26: Masterful Data Journalism on US Political Resistance to COVID-19 Vaccines
Joss Fong at Vox just put together an explainer on political defiance of COVID-19 vaccines in the US. It’s one of the best pieces of data journalism lite (i.e., no equations) and graphic design for explanation that I’ve ever seen.
• Sun 2022-Feb-13: The Shame of the Anti-Vaxxers
The shameful behavior of the anti-vaxxers has reached intolerable levels. It’s been extremely bad for a while, but now they’re picking off prominent scientists and public intellectuals with death threats.
• Fri 2022-Feb-11: FDA VRBPAC To Consider Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids 6mo - 4yr
On Monday 2022-Feb-15 the FDA’s VRBPAC will meet to consider Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for ages 6mo - 2yr. It worked for 6mo - 2yr, but not for 2yr - 4yr. A 3rd dose is being tested for 2yr - 4yr, but the FDA invited this application so parents can get their kids started on the first 2 doses while waiting for data on the 3rd. Unusual? Very!
• Wed 2022-Feb-09: On the Moderna Monkey Trial of Omicron-Specific Boosters
Somebody asked me about a report that Moderna’s monkey trial of an Omicron-specific booster wasn’t any better than the existing vaccine. What should we think about that?
• Tue 2022-Feb-08: On the Importance of Nagging the Unvaccinated
It’s important that we keep nagging people to get vaccinated, at escalating levels of unpleasantness. Let me show you why.
• Mon 2022-Feb-07: SARS-CoV2 Cryptic Sequences in NYC Wastewater: Why Not to Sleep Well at Night
As long as we’ve got our heads in the sewers, what else is happening with wastewater SARS-CoV2 analyses? It turns out, New York City rather alarmingly has some “cryptic sequences” not yet observed in humans. This is how the virus is scheming to throw another wave at us.
• Mon 2022-Jan-31: Moderna COVID-19 vaccine fully FDA-approved
Good news: the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, aka ‘Spikevax’, is now fully FDA-approved!
• Fri 2022-Jan-28: The Ten Billionth Dose
There have now been around 10 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses given. What should we make of that?
• Wed 2022-Jan-26: Pan-Coronavirus Vaccines
Last October, we noted that NIAID had granted $36 million for the development of a pan-coronavirus vaccine. Time for an report: how’s that working out? • Fri 2022-Jan-21: Shameful BioPharma Donations to Insurrectionists Regrettably, it has come to light that my former industry has some bad actors who are funding the Republican politicians who attempted to overthrow the last election. Who are these funders of insurrectionists, and once we know their companies can we shame them into stopping? • Wed 2022-Jan-19: Med-Chem Optimization of Paxlovid Previously, we wrote about how hard it currently is to find paxlovid, given intense demand, supply chain frustrations, and the complex synthesis pathway. Today let’s have a look at how exactly one goes about discovering such a thing, with an improbable number of steps in its chemistry. (Hint: an awful lot of luck/serendipity was involved!) • Tue 2022-Jan-18: Comparing the US COVID-19 Pandemic to Other Countries How’s the US pandemic doing in comparison to other countries, particularly those that Republicans love to diss? • Wed 2022-Jan-12: Paxlovid Availability vs the Omicron Wave The Omicron wave is coming. Paxlovid is scarce. Which way will it go? • Tue 2022-Jan-11: Finding paxlovid Paxlovid is a remarkable early therapeutic for people who’ve caught COVID-19. But… it’s very scarce for the next few months, ironically during the Omicron wave. Where can you score some paxlovid?! • Thu 2022-Jan-06: Reeeeeeally long COVID! How long can COVID-19 go on? If you answered less than$O(10^4)years until everyone with susceptible genes is dead… well, think again. • Wed 2021-Dec-22: FDA Authorizes Paxlovid … aaaaand, today the suspense is over: the FDA has authorized paxlovid. • Tue 2021-Dec-14: Veni, veni paxlovid! Today Pfizer announced they’ve submitted the final data package to the FDA for their COVID-19 anti-viral oral therapy, paxlovid. Wanna take a look at the (scant) data we have so far, as a holiday gift of sorts to all of humanity? • Fri 2021-Dec-10: The Weekend Editrix Exposed to COVID-19: An Adventure with Bayes Rule in Medical Testing Last weekend, the Weekend Editrix was exposed to a person who tested positive for COVID-19. The need for rapid testing suddenly became very real for us. While waiting for the test to work, we worked out the Bayesian stats for the test: a positive test means near-100% chance of COVID-19, while a negative test means 89.4% chance of no COVID-19. • Thu 2021-Dec-09: FDA Grants EUA to AstraZeneca's Evusheld for COVID-19 Prevention Guess what? Yesterday, the FDA gave Emergency Use Authorization to another COVID-19 medication, Evusheld from AstraZeneca. Yeah… I didn’t know, either! • Wed 2021-Dec-08: Some Advice from 'Your Local Epidemiologist' YLE has some important advice for all of us about surviving Omicron. • Mon 2021-Dec-06: Omicron vs Delta Will the Omicron variant outcompete Delta? Starting to look like it. Will that be a bad thing? Dunno, could go either way depending on reinfection rate and severity. • Thu 2021-Dec-02: Mea Culpa: Efficacies Don't Average! A couple days ago, commenting at TheZvi, I blithely averaged efficacies from the early and late cohorts of the molnupiravir trial. Fellow commenter Thomas pointed out that this is not correct! This post is a mea culpa and a lesson to myself on How to Do It Right. • Tue 2021-Nov-30: FDA AMDAC Considers Merck's Molnupiravir Today the FDA’s Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee (AMDAC) meets to decide whether or not to recommend emergency use authorization (EUA) of Merck’s molnupiravir, and antiviral therapy for mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults. Wanna read along? • Tue 2021-Nov-23: COVID-19: Is it 'over'? With vaccination rates rising (albeit glacially slowly), and new therapeutics like molnupiravir and paxlovid about to be approved, people are asking: is it over? My take is: probably not. • Fri 2021-Nov-19: A Couple Ivermectin Takedowns The right-wing knuckleheadedness around ivermectin as a COVID-19 therapy continues to amaze me. This week I came across 2 ivermectin takedowns: a Malaysian clinical trial and Scott Alexander’s dissection of the ivmmeta.com metanalysis. Two thumbs down. Way down. • Fri 2021-Nov-12: On New COVID-19 Therapeutics Vaccines are great, but now there are some exciting new treatments for COVID-19, in case you get a breakthrough infection (or made the wrong choice about accepting vaccination). Let’s look at how well they work, and what they might cost in comparison to other things. • Thu 2021-Nov-04: Natural vs Vaccine Immunity, Redux Last summer, we saw some evidence that COVID-19 vaccination conferred better immunity than ‘natural’ immunity from recovering from the disease. How has that held up in the face of new evidence? • Wed 2021-Oct-27: Today the Weekend Editrix got shot (for the 6th time!) Today the Weekend Editrix got shot, also for the sixth time this year! It was pretty good. • Tue 2021-Oct-26: FDA VRBPAC Considers Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids 5 – 11 Today the FDA’s Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) meets to discuss an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty for children ages 5 – 11. Lots of parents have been awaiting this for the last year and a half, with varying degress of frayed nerves. • Fri 2021-Oct-15: FDA Considers COVID-19 Boosters for J&J and Mix/Match Boosters Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets to review the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen application for 2nd dose boosters of their COVID-19 vaccine. They will also at least discuss the 3x3 mix-and-match booster study. • Thu 2021-Oct-14: FDA Considers COVID-19 Boosters for Moderna Spikevax Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets to review the Moderna application for 3rd dose boosters of their COVID-19 vaccine, Spikevax. Wonderful name aside, there should be a good case to be made as well. • Mon 2021-Oct-04: COVID-19 Miscellany Do you want the good news first? • Mon 2021-Sep-27: Today I got shot (for the 6th time!) Today I got shot. Again. For the sixth time this year! • Sat 2021-Sep-18: On the Naming of Vaccines Today I learned the commercial names of the COVID-19 vaccines. One of them is a real winner! • Fri 2021-Sep-17: FDA Considers COVID-19 Boosters for Pfizer Comirnaty Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets to review the Pfizer/BioNTech application for 3rd dose boosters of their COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty. Opinion is divided, so there will be some arguing. I’m makin’ popcorn. • Tue 2021-Sep-14: Today I got shot (a fifth time) Today I got shot for the fifth time this year. Again, not guns and not COVID, execrable as they both are. Influenza vaccination this time. • Thu 2021-Sep-02: Are we wasting too much COVID-19 vaccine? Today comes news that we’ve wasted about 15.1 million doses of COVID-19 doses here in the US. Is that a lot, or a little? How does it compare with history? Is the difference, if any, just random or is it real, i.e., statistically significant? • Tue 2021-Aug-31: Today I got shot (a fourth time) Today I got shot for the fourth time this year. No, not the COVID-19 booster (yet). The second dose of Shingrix, for shingles. • Sun 2021-Aug-29: Vaccination vs Hospitalization Rates: Simpson's Paradox Somebody asked me about why the vaccines are high efficacy with rare breakthrough infections, but we can see a high fraction of the hospitalized are vaccinated? Right, very puzzling. Then somebody else asked me what I thought of an article about Simpson’s paradox in the context of COVID. Ding, ding, ding, ding! • Sun 2021-Aug-29: ZDoggMD on telling COVID stories to motivate vaccination I’m a data-driven guy who detests persuasian by emotional anecdotes. But most people are, to my dismay, different in that regard. ZDoggMD does a good job today of persuading them. • Mon 2021-Aug-23: Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine fully FDA-approved Good news: the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is now fully FDA-approved! • Thu 2021-Aug-19: Two Predictions From time to time, we make predictions here. Two of them were: high probability of COVID-19 vaccine boosters by fall 2021, and mRNA vaccines will dramatically change the future of vaccines. Guess what happened this week? • Wed 2021-Aug-18: COVID-19 Vaccines and Alzheimers: Analyzing the Myth Somebody asked me about whether the COVID-19 vaccines prevented Alzheimers. Wait, what? • Tue 2021-Aug-17: COVID-19 Vaccines and Infertility: Analyzing the Myth Somebody asked me about whether the COVID-19 vaccine could cause infertility. Wait, what? • Wed 2021-Aug-04: Vaccine Efficacy, Delta Variant, and the CDC Changes Last week several bombs were dropped: COVID vaccine efficacy with the Delta variant, breakthrough infections, asymptomatic carriers, and changes in CDC guidelines. Was the panicky media coverage at all useful? • Thu 2021-Jul-29: Anger Among the Vaccinated Somebody asked me why vaccinated people in the US seemed to be always so angry at the unvaccinated. Hmpf. • Mon 2021-Jul-19: COVID-19 Vaccination is Better Than Natural Immunity Periodically I meet people who think “natural” immunity from having had COVID-19 is somehow better than being vaccinated. A new Israeli study plumbs the depths of just how wrong that is. • Sat 2021-Jul-17: COVID Vaccines: Why Not Full Approval? Somebody asked me a couple days ago why the Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J vaccines don’t have full FDA approval. Umm… hmm. Good question. • Fri 2021-Jul-16: The Highest-Vaccination Ethnic Group in the US What ethnic group in the US do you think has the highest vaccination rate? • Mon 2021-Jul-12: Thoughts on Variants & Vaccines The variants are starting to pile up. Unless we vaccinate everybody faster, there are going to be variants which evade vaccines and then we start all over. How close are we to that? • Tue 2021-Jul-06: Vaccinations vs Votes Back in April, we did some statistical analysis showing Trumpy states tended to have dramatically lower vaccination rates. Is that still the case? Regrettably, yes: more than ever. • Tue 2021-Jun-29: Today I got shot (a third time) Today I got shot a third time! No, not a COVID-19 booster (though that’s getting pretty interesting, but its time is not yet). Today I got the first of 2 doses of the formerly-scarce Shingrix vaccine against shingles. • Thu 2021-May-06: Good news on vaccines vs variants! Some good news, for once: the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is now known to work quite well against the British & South African variants in the real world. Especially in preventing hospitalization and death. • Sat 2021-Apr-24: The Billionth Dose As of yesterday, we passed a remarkable milestone: the billionth COVID-19 vaccination dose has been administered. • Fri 2021-Apr-23: JnJ Revenant Today the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) today recommended restoring use of the JnJ COVID-19 vaccine with warnings, and thrombosis treatment guidelines for clinicians. The CDC & FDA agreed, and lifted the restrictions. This seems to be very much the correct conclusion, albeit one arrived at far too slowly. • Wed 2021-Apr-21: Today the Weekend Editrix got shot (again) Today the Weekend Editrix got shot. Again. (The good way.) • Mon 2021-Apr-19: Politics vs mask use & vaccine uptake in the US Does political alignment in the US inform medically-relevant behaviors like mask use and vaccine uptake? Alas, yes: but not in a good way. • Fri 2021-Apr-16: Another study of clotting and COVID vaccines Another study has come out, comparing clotting risks of COVID-19 and various vaccines versus each other. What are the risks? And can we interpret the study the obvious way, or not? • Tue 2021-Apr-13: US pauses JnJ vaccine on thromboses Today the US regulatory agencies “paused” the use of the JnJ COVID-19 vaccine to investigate thromboses, similar to what’s been seen with the AZ/OX vaccine. How many, how bad, and what will a pause do? • Thu 2021-Apr-08: Reading the RNA in the Pfizer & Moderna vaccines Have you ever wondered if you could make sense of the RNA code in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, if you could just read it? With some help, you can now do exactly that. • Sat 2021-Apr-03: Pfizer/Moderna vaccine mRNA sequences posted on GitHub Interestingly, some Stanford scientists saved a few drops of the Moderna vaccine, apparently ran them through their sequencers, and posted the sequences on GitHub. • Wed 2021-Mar-31: Today the Weekend Editrix got shot Today the Weekend Editrix got shot. The good way: Pfizer/BioNTech PF-07302048/BNT162b2. • Tue 2021-Mar-30: Variants vs Vaccines SARS-CoV-2 is mutating, in increasingly dangerous ways. Can we keep up with booster vaccines for the variants, or even eliminate it once and for all? • Wed 2021-Mar-24: Today I got shot (again) Today I got shot (again). In the good sense: the second dose of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. • Tue 2021-Mar-23: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine trial (and its further discontents!) Somebody asked me about the AstraZeneca press release on their new Phase 3 vaccine trial. AstraZeneca has done it again… just not in a good way. • Wed 2021-Mar-17: The AstraZeneca/Oxford Vaccine vs Blood Clots Somebody asked me whether worries the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and dangerous blood clotting seen in some patients were a real problem. You know what the anti-vaxxers are gonna say; what do the data say? • Mon 2021-Mar-08: I guess I like Dolly Parton?! There is an apparently famous American country music singer named Dolly Parton. I was never a fan because… country music, ugh! But it appears I need to be a fan of the woman herself, because of her philanthropy and her encouragment of vaccination. Hmm… I had no idea. • Wed 2021-Mar-03: Today I got shot Today I got shot. No, not the bad way (though gun control is a legitimate issue in the US). I mean, with the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Getting the appointment (and the 2nd dose) was Kafkaesque. The actual medical experience was pretty ok. • Fri 2021-Feb-26: Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 review by FDA external advisory committee Today the J&J COVID-19 vaccine gets reviewed by VRBPAC (Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee) at the FDA, for an EUA (Emergency Use Authorization). Let’s have a look through their submission documents! • Fri 2021-Jan-29: JnJ COVID-19 vaccine interim readout: 57% - 72% efficacy, depending on… SOMETHING Today Johnson & Johnson/Janssen announced the interim readout (not final numbers!) of their adenovirus-vector based COVID-19 vaccine: 72% efficacy in the US, down to 57% efficacy in South Africa. We previously described the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna/Lonza vaccines as “beautiful”; this is “relatively pretty”. Pretty enough to do some good in the world, though. • Sun 2021-Jan-03: Formal scientific publication of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Phase 3 trial On 2020-Dec-30, the formal scientific publication of the Moderna’s COVID-19 Phase 3 trail in the prestigious New Englad Journal of Medicine dropped into public view. It’s good. • Thu 2020-Dec-31: The mutant coronavirus: will the vaccines still work? Somebody asked me whether the COVID-19 vaccines currently being used would work vs the mutant form of SARS-CoV-2 now driving COVID-19 in the UK. Looks like it probably will, though nobody really knows. What will definitely work: masking, social distancing, working from home, no gatherings beyond a single household, having adequate food & medicine stored, getting a flu vaccination, and not being a super-spreader of misinformation. • Wed 2020-Dec-30: Serious adverse event frequency: about like getting struck by lightning? Explaining to COVID vaccine clinical trial participants that the probability of a certain serious adverse event is 1/50,000 or less doesn’t work. Most people instantly stop listening at the slightest whiff of mathematics, including ordinary numbers. But if you compare it to being struck by lightning, that makes sense to most people. Can you guess what happened next? • Fri 2020-Dec-18: XKCD explains it all Randall Munroe, the mad cartoonist behind XKCD, explains COVID-19 vaccine approvals. And channels Lord Rutherford. Simultaneously. • Fri 2020-Dec-18: Moderna vaccine passes FDA external advisory committee! Yesterday was also a good day: the FDA’s external advisory committee passed the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at 5:20pm EST on 2020-Dec-17. Late today, the FDA agreed and granted the Emergency Use Authorization. • Tue 2020-Dec-15: Another beautiful vaccine: a look into the Moderna FDA EUA submission package Somebody asked me about the contents of the Moderna EUA application for their COVID-19 vaccine. Summary: It is also quite beautiful. • Sat 2020-Dec-12: Are the Pfizer vaccine's efficacy confidence intervals sensible? Somebody asked me about the confidence intervals Pfizer reported for vaccine efficacy in various age groups. Some of them are negative! Are they sensible? • Thu 2020-Dec-10: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine passes FDA external advisory committee! Today is a good day: the FDA’s external advisory committee passed the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at 6:30pm EST. • Tue 2020-Dec-08: A beautiful vaccine: a look into the Pfizer/BioNTech FDA EUA submission package Ok, nobody asked me this time, because for once I got out ahead of them. It seems Pfizer/BioNTech submitted an EUA (“emergency use authorization”) package to the FDA. What’s it look like? • Fri 2020-Nov-27: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine interim readout (and its discontents) Somebody asked me about the early readout this week of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine Phase 3 trial. Initially they said 70% efficacy. It’s not a stunningly good 95% result like Pfizer or Moderna; still, it’s a good, craftsmanlike bit of work. But then… things got weird. • Mon 2020-Nov-16: Moderna/Lonza vaccine interim readout: 95% efficacy! Today the Moderna/Lonza vaccine trial vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 95% efficacy! Also, 100% prevention of severe cases of COVID-19. Like last week’s Pfizer/BioNTech interim readout, this is again unabashedly good news. • Mon 2020-Nov-09: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine interim readout: 90% efficacy! Today the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 90% efficacy. This is unabashedly good news. • Wed 2020-Sep-23: COVID points of hope and evaluating a vaccine Looking for a glimmer of hope amid the COVID clouds? Worried about whether a vaccine will be appropriately safe & effective? You’ve come to the right place. • Wed 2020-Sep-02: What's in the Moderna Q2 earnings call? Somebody asked me (different “somebody” this time, though the same subject) about the Moderna Q2 earnings call. Do I look like I know the answer to questions like that?! On close inspection, though, it looks like a python swallowing a pig: a smallish company tackling a big problem with COVID vaccines. • Sat 2020-Aug-01: What's happening in the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine phase 3 start? Somebody asked me (really it’s the same “somebody” behind all of these) about the Moderna COVID vaccine phase 3 start. Basically, it looks like the start of a reasonably designed Phase 3 trial: the beginning of a long slog to test safety & efficacy. • Wed 2020-Jul-15: What's in the Phase 1/2 readout of the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine? Ok, so I finally tracked down the official Phase 1/2 readout of the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine (whose Phase 3 delay we commented on about 10 days ago). Here are some quick thoughts, but the top line seems to be very good. • Sun 2020-Jul-05: And what about the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine Phase 3 delay? Somebody asked me — same troublemakers, in case you’re curious — about whether the Moderna/Lonza Phase 1/2 vaccine trial looked reasonable and if the delay of Phase 3 start for a protocol amendment was reasonable. Sure seems so! No, it’s not an investment signal. • Sat 2020-Jul-04: What's in the Phase 1/2 readout of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine? Somebody asked me what’s in the Phase 1/2 readout of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine. Of course they wanted to know about the trial results, but they also wanted to know if it is an investment signal. It is not. ## Physics: • Sat 2021-Dec-25: Today the Webb Space Telescope Launched Today the Webb Space Telescope launched successfully. Happy Christmas. • Wed 2021-Dec-15: Tis the Season… of the Analemma It’s that season again: the time of nerdly meditations on the analemma. The shortest day of the year, Dec 21, is yet to come. But for night owls, the day of earliest sunset (at the latitude of Château Weekend) was Dec 8th. How can that be? That’s the tale of the analemma! • Mon 2021-Nov-01: When Was the Norse Settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland? Hey, let’s think about something that’s not COVID-19! Like, for example: when exactly did the Norse settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland happen? • Thu 2021-Sep-09: CFS & MIT PSFC build 20T REBCO magnet Today Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) and MIT’s Plasma Science Fusion Center (PSFC) announced they have successfully built high-T_cREBCO magnet capable of 20T field strength. What should that mean to you? • Mon 2020-Dec-21: Winter solstice, Dodds's Day, and the Weekend Editrix's Day Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. It is not, however, the day of earliest sunset (of interest to night owls). Nor is it the day of latest sunrise (of interest to morning… people). Therein lies the tale of the analemma, first told to me long ago by a marvelous former colleague, Doug Dodds. • Wed 2020-Dec-02: Proposed source of the "Wow!" signal? The sad news about Arecibo brings up the topic of SETI. In better news, an amateur astronomer has proposed a particular star as the source of the famous “Wow!” event, using the Gaia Archive. Wait, what? • Tue 2020-Dec-01: Alas, Arecibo Alas, for the Arecibo Observatory/National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center is no more. • Sat 2020-Oct-24: At autumn in New England, thoughts turn to... At autumn in New England, thoughts turn to the extreme beauty of nature, the weather turning more comfortably cooler & drier, cinnamon and nutmeg smells everywhere, and… trebuchets, catapaults, air cannons, and other implements of imparting to pumpkins various levels of sub-orbital trajectories. ## Politics: • Sun 2022-May-08: The Highest-Vaccination Ethnic Group in the US, Redux Remember last year when we noted the highest-vaccination ethnic group in the US? They’re still winning, and it shows in the statistics. • Mon 2022-May-02: No Masks + New Wave = ? Somehow we’ve stumbled into striking down mask mandates. Who did that? AND is it ok, with the next wave situation of SARS-CoV2? Do you even have to guess? • Sun 2022-May-01: It's Always Been 2 Americas for COVID-19 COVID-19 has brought to light a lot of disparities in the US. Today’s scientific paper is about just how certainly we know the Trumpy parts of the country, especially the South, were COVID-19 disasters: hundreds of thousands of excess deaths due to mask defiance, vaccine refusal, and malign conservative disinformation. • Fri 2022-Apr-29: Too Much AND Too Little COVID-19?! Recently 2 Trump-appointed judges in the US have ruled that they can overturn Biden policies because there is simultaneously too much COVID-19 and too little COVID-19. They’re not even pretending to be rational any more. • Thu 2022-Apr-14: Passover & Late-Stage Capitalism So, it’s Passover. What might late-stage capitalism have to say about that? • Fri 2022-Apr-08: FDA VRBPAC Meeting on Booster & Vaccine Variant Policy This week the FDA’S Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) met to consider future policy for vaccine boosters and variants for the future. • Sun 2022-Mar-27: US Republicans Against Interracial Marriage?! A Republican US Senator says he would allow states to ban interracial marriage. What?! • Fri 2022-Mar-25: On the Tension Between Hope and Despair I feel I’m walking a knife-edge between hope and despair. The news is not helping. • Sat 2022-Mar-19: Some Unexpected Inspiration on Russia & Ukraine Today I came across an unexpected source of encouragement in the matter of Russia and Ukraine. • Fri 2022-Mar-18: COVID-19: Lessons Learned & Another Booster We would like to think we’ve learned a few things from our collective COVID-19 experience, but the evidence is somewhat equivocal. What we’ve definitely learned is that there will almost certainly be another booster. • Wed 2022-Mar-09: Rethinking NPIs and Vaccinations People are clamoring for an end to “restrictions”, by which they mean masks and closures. And, of course, vaccination mandates. They’re eager to be done with COVID-19, whether COVID-19 is done with them or not. Does any of that make sense? Well… some of it… maybe. • Tue 2022-Mar-01: Ukraine & Russia: A Lack of Thoughts Somebody asked me why I haven’t said anything about the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Well… • Sat 2022-Feb-26: Masterful Data Journalism on US Political Resistance to COVID-19 Vaccines Joss Fong at Vox just put together an explainer on political defiance of COVID-19 vaccines in the US. It’s one of the best pieces of data journalism lite (i.e., no equations) and graphic design for explanation that I’ve ever seen. • Wed 2022-Feb-23: Pessimism and Optimism Somebody asked me why I’m always so dour. Well, times are hard: pandemic waves, disinformation & death, potential nuclear war over Ukraine, the rise of the fascist right, climate change not only unchecked but furiously denied, and so on. So let’s take some inventory of our problems… and maybe a few points that (may) cause hope for the future. • Sat 2022-Feb-19: Republicans Still a Death Cult?! Yesterday came simultaneous bits of evidence in the US that (a) COVID-19 death rates for unvaccinated are unambiguously disastrous, and (b) Republicans attempted to defund any school that takes COVID-19 protections. This is ‘death cult’ levels of badness. • Tue 2022-Feb-15: Sustaining Spirit in Hard Times: People are Complicated Times are difficult, here in the 3rd year of a global pandemic that drags on and on, because people just cannot grasp the importance of public health measures and vaccination. Anything that sustains our spirit and our belief in a good core of human nature is important. So why am I looking at dog statues on bridges in Prague? • Sun 2022-Feb-13: The Shame of the Anti-Vaxxers The shameful behavior of the anti-vaxxers has reached intolerable levels. It’s been extremely bad for a while, but now they’re picking off prominent scientists and public intellectuals with death threats. • Tue 2022-Feb-08: On the Importance of Nagging the Unvaccinated It’s important that we keep nagging people to get vaccinated, at escalating levels of unpleasantness. Let me show you why. • Mon 2022-Feb-07: SARS-CoV2 Cryptic Sequences in NYC Wastewater: Why Not to Sleep Well at Night As long as we’ve got our heads in the sewers, what else is happening with wastewater SARS-CoV2 analyses? It turns out, New York City rather alarmingly has some “cryptic sequences” not yet observed in humans. This is how the virus is scheming to throw another wave at us. • Mon 2022-Jan-31: When You Say 'I Did My Own Research'… What Does That Sound Like to Actual Research Scientists? Lots people say ‘I did my own research’ on subjects in which they are not sufficiently educated to evaluate data, let alone form an independent opinion reliably. Here’s what that sounds like to actual research scientists. • Mon 2022-Jan-31: Moderna COVID-19 vaccine fully FDA-approved Good news: the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, aka ‘Spikevax’, is now fully FDA-approved! • Fri 2022-Jan-28: The Ten Billionth Dose There have now been around 10 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses given. What should we make of that? • Fri 2022-Jan-21: Shameful BioPharma Donations to Insurrectionists Regrettably, it has come to light that my former industry has some bad actors who are funding the Republican politicians who attempted to overthrow the last election. Who are these funders of insurrectionists, and once we know their companies can we shame them into stopping? • Tue 2022-Jan-18: Comparing the US COVID-19 Pandemic to Other Countries How’s the US pandemic doing in comparison to other countries, particularly those that Republicans love to diss? • Mon 2022-Jan-17: MLK Day 2022 Today in the US is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when we honor the civil rights advocate who pushed for rights for racial minorities and the poor, for which he was assassinated. How best should that honor be expressed? • Sun 2021-Dec-05: Avoding Vaccination With More Creativity Than Common Sense Remember last month, when we had the story about people in Greece bribing doctors for fake vaccines, and doctors taking the money but giving real vaccines? Even though that story has some believability challenges, it’s no longer the weirdest vaccine story I’ve heard. Move over, Greece: the Italians are on the job. (And where are the French surrealists, anyway?) • Tue 2021-Nov-16: COVID-19 Continues to Kill Conservatives Charles Gaba has updated his county-level COVID-19 vax rates and death rates, versus percentage of Trump voters. It’s not pretty. • Tue 2021-Nov-09: On kids and vaccines: ending the pandemic If you think we can end the pandemic without vaccinating kids because they tend not to get so sick… think again. Try harder this time. • Mon 2021-Nov-08: Three Lessons from COVID COVID-19 has taught us some lessons about (a) how mind-numbingly stupid and corrupt we can be, and (b) some forms of corruption that are so confusing that I can’t tell if they are the divine madness or instead just &Gammad;ΤΦ. • Sat 2021-Oct-30: The Partisan Divide on COVID-19 Deaths COVID-19 death rates in the US are nakedly partisan. So is mask resistance. So is delusional belief about nonsensical use of ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. Care to draw a conclusion? • Wed 2021-Oct-27: Today the Weekend Editrix got shot (for the 6th time!) Today the Weekend Editrix got shot, also for the sixth time this year! It was pretty good. • Mon 2021-Oct-25: Are We Close to the End of the Pandemic? Well… are we? • Sun 2021-Oct-24: On 'Natural' Immunity Persistence vs COVID-19 What are the consequences of relying on ‘natural’ immunity after recovery from COVID-19? Pretty grim, as it turns out. • Fri 2021-Oct-22: Cops vs The Rest of Us: Mask Edition Two NYPD transit cops forcibly ejected a citizen from a Manhattan subway station. His crime? Pointing out that the cops were not wearing masks, in contravention of a statewide mask mandate, and, for that matter, simple common sense and courtesy. • Mon 2021-Oct-18: Vaccine Mandate Origins in the US The history of why vaccine mandates are in fact constitutional in the United States has a long, somewhat twisted history. It’s also of local interest, here at Chez Weekend, as many of the important events transpired a short MBTA ride away. • Mon 2021-Oct-04: COVID-19 Miscellany Do you want the good news first? • Mon 2021-Sep-27: Today I got shot (for the 6th time!) Today I got shot. Again. For the sixth time this year! • Sun 2021-Sep-26: Petrov Day #38: Remembering the Day the World Did NOT End Today the world did not end. That’s 38 times in a row, now. • Sat 2021-Sep-11: On war memorials Today marks 2 decades since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in NYC, the Pentagon in DC, and a third target that was spared because airline passengers forced a crash in Shanksville, PA. It also marks, with the recent US withdrawal from Afghanistan, at least a winding down, though possibly not a complete ending, of 20 years of war. It’s time to think about war memorials… sort of. • Wed 2021-Sep-08: The Madness of Texas Abortion Vigilantes Texas passed an abortion ban at 6 weeks, in defiance of Federal rulings that they cannot do this before fetal viability (about 25weeks). How did that happen? • Tue 2021-Sep-07: The Madness of Vaccine Resistance Have a quarter of us gone mad? It would seem so… • Mon 2021-Sep-06: Rosh Hashanah: A Chance to Start Over on Labor Day Today is Labor Day in the US. It’s also Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. What can we make of that coincidence, even without being Jewish? • Mon 2021-Aug-23: Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine fully FDA-approved Good news: the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is now fully FDA-approved! • Wed 2021-Aug-18: COVID-19 Vaccines and Alzheimers: Analyzing the Myth Somebody asked me about whether the COVID-19 vaccines prevented Alzheimers. Wait, what? • Tue 2021-Aug-17: COVID-19 Vaccines and Infertility: Analyzing the Myth Somebody asked me about whether the COVID-19 vaccine could cause infertility. Wait, what? • Wed 2021-Aug-04: Vaccine Efficacy, Delta Variant, and the CDC Changes Last week several bombs were dropped: COVID vaccine efficacy with the Delta variant, breakthrough infections, asymptomatic carriers, and changes in CDC guidelines. Was the panicky media coverage at all useful? • Thu 2021-Jul-29: Anger Among the Vaccinated Somebody asked me why vaccinated people in the US seemed to be always so angry at the unvaccinated. Hmpf. • Mon 2021-Jul-19: COVID-19 Vaccination is Better Than Natural Immunity Periodically I meet people who think “natural” immunity from having had COVID-19 is somehow better than being vaccinated. A new Israeli study plumbs the depths of just how wrong that is. • Sat 2021-Jul-17: COVID Vaccines: Why Not Full Approval? Somebody asked me a couple days ago why the Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J vaccines don’t have full FDA approval. Umm… hmm. Good question. • Fri 2021-Jul-16: The Highest-Vaccination Ethnic Group in the US What ethnic group in the US do you think has the highest vaccination rate? • Mon 2021-Jul-12: Really, Republicans? [Warning: US-centric, lefty political rant. If you’re from outside the US and want to laugh at us… well, fair enough: we’ve earned it.] I mean… really, Republicans? Do you seriously want to put up with politicians like this? For what possible reason? Why would you even want to be in the same party as people like this? • Mon 2021-Jul-12: Thoughts on Variants & Vaccines The variants are starting to pile up. Unless we vaccinate everybody faster, there are going to be variants which evade vaccines and then we start all over. How close are we to that? • Tue 2021-Jul-06: Vaccinations vs Votes Back in April, we did some statistical analysis showing Trumpy states tended to have dramatically lower vaccination rates. Is that still the case? Regrettably, yes: more than ever. • Wed 2021-Jun-30: ZDoggMD on the Delta Variant Somebody asked me what I thought of ZDogg’s explanation of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant. My first thought was “ZDogg who? Is that a rapper or something?” My final thought was that the guy’s eminently reasonable, eloquent, and kind. • Thu 2021-Jun-10: US COVID-19: A Tale of Two Countries As COVID-19 gradually comes under control in the US, we are becoming 2 countries: one that listends to science and medical advice, and another rather more backward. This leads to some startlingly disturbing contrasts in the news. • Wed 2021-May-12: More sense about vaccines from Hank Green Hank Green once again has one or two true and useful words to say to young people about COVID-19 vaccination. • Sat 2021-Apr-24: The Billionth Dose As of yesterday, we passed a remarkable milestone: the billionth COVID-19 vaccination dose has been administered. • Fri 2021-Apr-23: JnJ Revenant Today the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) today recommended restoring use of the JnJ COVID-19 vaccine with warnings, and thrombosis treatment guidelines for clinicians. The CDC & FDA agreed, and lifted the restrictions. This seems to be very much the correct conclusion, albeit one arrived at far too slowly. • Mon 2021-Apr-19: Politics vs mask use & vaccine uptake in the US Does political alignment in the US inform medically-relevant behaviors like mask use and vaccine uptake? Alas, yes: but not in a good way. • Fri 2021-Apr-02: Well, that didn't take long As we’ve seen before, the biggest group of American vaccine refuseniks are White Republicans (especially men). Guess who’s swooping in to take up their vaccine supply? • Tue 2021-Mar-30: Proposed Darwin Award for vaccine policy Sometimes politicians pursue policies so breathtakingly out of touch with reality, you just don’t know what to say. (Understandably, because “breathtaking”.) • Tue 2021-Mar-30: Variants vs Vaccines SARS-CoV-2 is mutating, in increasingly dangerous ways. Can we keep up with booster vaccines for the variants, or even eliminate it once and for all? • Mon 2021-Mar-22: The pandemic year in retrospect Time for perspective: we’ve been stuck in a pandemic for a year now. What’s the best summary of your experience? • Mon 2021-Mar-15: US Senate: does one party filibuster more? Sen McConnell claims the Democrats abuse the filibuster! (Because of course he does.) But what do the data say? • Wed 2021-Mar-10: Republicans vs Herd Immunity If a large enough clade of US persons refuse COVID-19 vaccination, herd immunity may never be reached. Right now in the US, that clade seems to be White Republicans. (World-wide, it’s of course more complicated.) • Mon 2021-Mar-08: I guess I like Dolly Parton?! There is an apparently famous American country music singer named Dolly Parton. I was never a fan because… country music, ugh! But it appears I need to be a fan of the woman herself, because of her philanthropy and her encouragment of vaccination. Hmm… I had no idea. • Wed 2021-Feb-24: Why did Republicans block a Trump impeachment guilty verdict? It’s been a couple weeks, so we’ve all calmed down a little. But still… why did 43 Republican senators vote to block the obvious guilty verdict in Trump’s impeachment? • Thu 2021-Feb-11: Impeachment actions: sine qua non So. US politics: it seems The Creature is being impeached. Again. What can we do to make sure the impeachment makes a difference this time? • Mon 2021-Feb-01: COVID-19 vaccines: the need for speed Vaccine rollouts worldwide, with very few exceptions, have been slow & bungled. But we face a cruel equation: delay = death. Why do we tolerate this? • Wed 2021-Jan-20: The adults are finally back in charge! Today was a good day: with the inauguration (and the constitutional mandate behind it) at 12:01pm, Biden & Harris and a (barely) Democratic Congress are back in charge in the US. • Thu 2021-Jan-14: COVID-19 loves Republican politicians Suppose you had 2 groups of politicians, but one of them thought a pandemic was “fake news”, refused to wear masks, congregated indoors with no social distancing, blocked public health spending, mocked public health guidance, was proud of their ignorance, and were just in general jerks about the subject. Do you think they’d get infected with the disease more often than their opponents? • Tue 2021-Jan-12: Apropos of nothing in particular, what exactly is 'sedition'? I was wondering what exactly it takes to commit ‘sedition’. Turns out, it’s kind of complicated. What with insurrection, threats to murder Representatives, Senators, and the Vice President last week, apparently everything is complicated. • Wed 2021-Jan-06: Democrats take Senate & Presidency; Republicans start insurrection & terrorism Today was when the Electoral College was to have been certified in Congress, sealing the fate of the presidential election. It is also the day the Democrats attained a majority in the Senate. Alas, it is also the day Republicans incited insurrectionists and terrorists against the United States government. • Wed 2020-Dec-30: Serious adverse event frequency: about like getting struck by lightning? Explaining to COVID vaccine clinical trial participants that the probability of a certain serious adverse event is 1/50,000 or less doesn’t work. Most people instantly stop listening at the slightest whiff of mathematics, including ordinary numbers. But if you compare it to being struck by lightning, that makes sense to most people. Can you guess what happened next? • Mon 2020-Dec-28: You're scaring me You all are scaring me, with your science denying, mask refusing, socially close quarters, holiday travelling ways. C’mon: wear a mask, socially distance, avoid indoor gatherings, get a flu shot. At least pretend to try you want to live until the vaccine is available, ok? Then maybe you won’t randomly kill the rest of us, who do want to live. • Fri 2020-Dec-18: Moderna vaccine passes FDA external advisory committee! Yesterday was also a good day: the FDA’s external advisory committee passed the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at 5:20pm EST on 2020-Dec-17. Late today, the FDA agreed and granted the Emergency Use Authorization. • Tue 2020-Dec-15: Another beautiful vaccine: a look into the Moderna FDA EUA submission package Somebody asked me about the contents of the Moderna EUA application for their COVID-19 vaccine. Summary: It is also quite beautiful. • Thu 2020-Dec-10: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine passes FDA external advisory committee! Today is a good day: the FDA’s external advisory committee passed the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at 6:30pm EST. • Tue 2020-Dec-08: A beautiful vaccine: a look into the Pfizer/BioNTech FDA EUA submission package Ok, nobody asked me this time, because for once I got out ahead of them. It seems Pfizer/BioNTech submitted an EUA (“emergency use authorization”) package to the FDA. What’s it look like? • Mon 2020-Nov-30: What size were the factions in the US election? So we just had an election. You may have heard there were some rather sharply drawn sides. How big were each of the factions? • Sun 2020-Nov-29: We need the Talmudic argument style… someday Somebody asked me about the style of argument used when discussing the Talmud, a centuries-long rabbinical dialog on Jewish Law. The style involves not so much winning (though there is that), but mostly about understanding multiple points of view. Sound like something the world could use about now? • Tue 2020-Nov-24: Some sense about vaccines from Hank Green Hank Green (notable web producer, author, and master of miscellany) recorded his weekly vlog to his brother about whether he would take a COVID vaccine. Roughly: “oh hell yeah!” (though far more entertainingly). • Thu 2020-Nov-19: Well, that was somewhat… unsatisfying Today the AP finally called Georgia for Biden, after the hand recount. But the Senate still hangs fire until the runoff in January. And apparently, 73 million Americans somehow voted for Trump?! • Mon 2020-Nov-02: Coronavirus & Elections: The Winter of Our Discontent The election is coming, with a possibility of right-wing violence and subversion. COVID-19 is forming up for another wave of infections. Winter is coming. It’s terrifying, but there are some things you can do. • Tue 2020-Oct-06: Today I voted Today I voted. You should too, if you’re an eligible US voter. • Fri 2020-Oct-02: Election Night of the Living Beta Binomials As you may have heard, the US is about to face an election more contentious than any since the Civil War. With vote counting likely drawn out due to right-wing mischief at, for example, the Post Office, what are we to make of partial returns as far as predicting the outcome? And will there be zombies? • Sat 2020-Sep-26: Petrov Day — The Day the World Didn't End Today we commemorate 1983-Sep-26: the day Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov prevented the end the world. Go thou forth and do likewise: save as much of the world as you can. • Fri 2020-Jul-03: Is the racial makeup of the Boston Police Department unrepresentative? Somebody asked me about this article in the Boston Globe by Vernal Coleman on the racial makeup of the Boston Police Department: does it resemble the community it polices? ## R: • Sun 2022-May-08: The Highest-Vaccination Ethnic Group in the US, Redux Remember last year when we noted the highest-vaccination ethnic group in the US? They’re still winning, and it shows in the statistics. • Fri 2022-Feb-04: Boston Wastewater Re-Re-Visited: Sewage Viral RNA vs COVID-19 Cases and Deaths In 2020-November and 2021-May, we looked at the SARS-CoV2 mRNA in Boston wastewater. It’s relation to medical loads was erratic. How’s it look with another 9 months of data? • Fri 2022-Jan-21: Shameful BioPharma Donations to Insurrectionists Regrettably, it has come to light that my former industry has some bad actors who are funding the Republican politicians who attempted to overthrow the last election. Who are these funders of insurrectionists, and once we know their companies can we shame them into stopping? • Sat 2022-Jan-01: L'état du blog: 2021 A full calendar year of blogging has passed. So, thankfully, has the annus horribilis 2021CE. How did we come out? (The blog, that is. 2021 itself is still too traumatizing to discuss.) • Wed 2021-Dec-15: Tis the Season… of the Analemma It’s that season again: the time of nerdly meditations on the analemma. The shortest day of the year, Dec 21, is yet to come. But for night owls, the day of earliest sunset (at the latitude of Château Weekend) was Dec 8th. How can that be? That’s the tale of the analemma! • Tue 2021-Dec-14: Veni, veni paxlovid! Today Pfizer announced they’ve submitted the final data package to the FDA for their COVID-19 anti-viral oral therapy, paxlovid. Wanna take a look at the (scant) data we have so far, as a holiday gift of sorts to all of humanity? • Fri 2021-Nov-12: On New COVID-19 Therapeutics Vaccines are great, but now there are some exciting new treatments for COVID-19, in case you get a breakthrough infection (or made the wrong choice about accepting vaccination). Let’s look at how well they work, and what they might cost in comparison to other things. • Thu 2021-Sep-02: Are we wasting too much COVID-19 vaccine? Today comes news that we’ve wasted about 15.1 million doses of COVID-19 doses here in the US. Is that a lot, or a little? How does it compare with history? Is the difference, if any, just random or is it real, i.e., statistically significant? • Sat 2021-Jun-19: The Weekend Retirement Portfolio After reading my rant on the superiority of Treasury bonds vs corporate bonds as a stock diversifier, of course somebody asked me what the retirement portfolio of the denizens of Chez Weekend looked like. Basically: index funds, heavily diversified across bond types, stock sizes, valuations, and nations. • Mon 2021-Jun-07: Stock Diversifiers: Treasury vs Corporate Bonds? If you invest in US stocks, you certainly want to diversify with some bonds for risk control, availability of funds for rebalancing, and earning some income. Should you use Treasury bonds (which earn approximately nothing, but are safe) or corporate bonds (which earn something, but are riskier)? • Tue 2021-Jun-01: Bayes Rule vs The Millionaire Next Door Somebody asked me (back in 2012!) about the famous book, The Millionaire Next Door. It’s good as far as it goes; it just doesn’t go nearly as far as almost everybody thinks! • Fri 2021-May-21: Wastewater Revisited: Metagenomic Viral RNA and Medical Loads Last November, we looked at metagenomics of sewage SARS-CoV-2 RNA vs medical loads in Boston. The results then were inconclusive. There’s a lot more data now. Does the mRNA in sewage actually predict anything useful about COVID hospital admission, ICU admission, ventilator use, and death? Yes, it does. • Wed 2021-Mar-17: The AstraZeneca/Oxford Vaccine vs Blood Clots Somebody asked me whether worries the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and dangerous blood clotting seen in some patients were a real problem. You know what the anti-vaxxers are gonna say; what do the data say? • Wed 2021-Feb-24: Why did Republicans block a Trump impeachment guilty verdict? It’s been a couple weeks, so we’ve all calmed down a little. But still… why did 43 Republican senators vote to block the obvious guilty verdict in Trump’s impeachment? • Thu 2021-Feb-11: Impeachment actions: sine qua non So. US politics: it seems The Creature is being impeached. Again. What can we do to make sure the impeachment makes a difference this time? • Thu 2021-Jan-14: COVID-19 loves Republican politicians Suppose you had 2 groups of politicians, but one of them thought a pandemic was “fake news”, refused to wear masks, congregated indoors with no social distancing, blocked public health spending, mocked public health guidance, was proud of their ignorance, and were just in general jerks about the subject. Do you think they’d get infected with the disease more often than their opponents? • Mon 2020-Dec-21: Winter solstice, Dodds's Day, and the Weekend Editrix's Day Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. It is not, however, the day of earliest sunset (of interest to night owls). Nor is it the day of latest sunrise (of interest to morning… people). Therein lies the tale of the analemma, first told to me long ago by a marvelous former colleague, Doug Dodds. • Sat 2020-Dec-12: Are the Pfizer vaccine's efficacy confidence intervals sensible? Somebody asked me about the confidence intervals Pfizer reported for vaccine efficacy in various age groups. Some of them are negative! Are they sensible? • Mon 2020-Nov-30: What size were the factions in the US election? So we just had an election. You may have heard there were some rather sharply drawn sides. How big were each of the factions? • Fri 2020-Nov-27: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine interim readout (and its discontents) Somebody asked me about the early readout this week of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine Phase 3 trial. Initially they said 70% efficacy. It’s not a stunningly good 95% result like Pfizer or Moderna; still, it’s a good, craftsmanlike bit of work. But then… things got weird. • Mon 2020-Nov-16: Moderna/Lonza vaccine interim readout: 95% efficacy! Today the Moderna/Lonza vaccine trial vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 95% efficacy! Also, 100% prevention of severe cases of COVID-19. Like last week’s Pfizer/BioNTech interim readout, this is again unabashedly good news. • Mon 2020-Nov-09: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine interim readout: 90% efficacy! Today the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 90% efficacy. This is unabashedly good news. • Wed 2020-Nov-04: Wastewater coronavirus RNA vs medical loads Previously, we mentioned there were data showing the level of coronavirus RNA in metro Boston wastewater, and speculated that it might be predictive of medical loads like hospitalization and death rates. The truth turns out to be weirder than that (comme d’habitude). • Thu 2020-Oct-15: Statins & ACE inhibitors & ARB blockers as COVID-19 therapeutics? Somebody asked me (honest!) about a news item linking improved treatment outcomes for COVID-19 with patients using statin and ACE inhibitor drugs. Very preliminary stuff, and the effect size is not giant, but it is peer-reviewed and looks quite legit. Not gonna change the world, but even small bits of good news are welcome. • Fri 2020-Aug-07: What's that stupid avatar? Somebody asked me, “What’s that stupid avatar on your blog?” It’s a reminder that even simple questions show infinite complexity if you look closely enough. And sometimes even if you don’t! • Fri 2020-Jul-03: Is the racial makeup of the Boston Police Department unrepresentative? Somebody asked me about this article in the Boston Globe by Vernal Coleman on the racial makeup of the Boston Police Department: does it resemble the community it polices? ## Religion: • Thu 2022-Apr-14: Passover & Late-Stage Capitalism So, it’s Passover. What might late-stage capitalism have to say about that? • Sun 2022-Mar-27: US Republicans Against Interracial Marriage?! A Republican US Senator says he would allow states to ban interracial marriage. What?! • Tue 2022-Feb-15: Sustaining Spirit in Hard Times: People are Complicated Times are difficult, here in the 3rd year of a global pandemic that drags on and on, because people just cannot grasp the importance of public health measures and vaccination. Anything that sustains our spirit and our belief in a good core of human nature is important. So why am I looking at dog statues on bridges in Prague? • Sat 2021-Sep-11: On war memorials Today marks 2 decades since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in NYC, the Pentagon in DC, and a third target that was spared because airline passengers forced a crash in Shanksville, PA. It also marks, with the recent US withdrawal from Afghanistan, at least a winding down, though possibly not a complete ending, of 20 years of war. It’s time to think about war memorials… sort of. • Mon 2021-Sep-06: Rosh Hashanah: A Chance to Start Over on Labor Day Today is Labor Day in the US. It’s also Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. What can we make of that coincidence, even without being Jewish? • Sun 2020-Nov-29: We need the Talmudic argument style… someday Somebody asked me about the style of argument used when discussing the Talmud, a centuries-long rabbinical dialog on Jewish Law. The style involves not so much winning (though there is that), but mostly about understanding multiple points of view. Sound like something the world could use about now? ## Retirement: • Sat 2021-Jun-19: The Weekend Retirement Portfolio After reading my rant on the superiority of Treasury bonds vs corporate bonds as a stock diversifier, of course somebody asked me what the retirement portfolio of the denizens of Chez Weekend looked like. Basically: index funds, heavily diversified across bond types, stock sizes, valuations, and nations. • Mon 2021-Jun-07: Stock Diversifiers: Treasury vs Corporate Bonds? If you invest in US stocks, you certainly want to diversify with some bonds for risk control, availability of funds for rebalancing, and earning some income. Should you use Treasury bonds (which earn approximately nothing, but are safe) or corporate bonds (which earn something, but are riskier)? • Tue 2021-Jun-01: Bayes Rule vs The Millionaire Next Door Somebody asked me (back in 2012!) about the famous book, The Millionaire Next Door. It’s good as far as it goes; it just doesn’t go nearly as far as almost everybody thinks! • Thu 2020-Jul-02: The Retirement of Iphegenia Somebody asked me, “What’s your retirement plan?” ## Sadness: • Tue 2022-May-10: Compassion for the Unvaccinated I have a hard time controlling my anger at the unvaccinated, the spreaders of disinformation, and the superstitious for prolonging the pandemic and killing people world-wide. Others, who are likely better people than me, have managed to find another way. • Sun 2022-May-01: It's Always Been 2 Americas for COVID-19 COVID-19 has brought to light a lot of disparities in the US. Today’s scientific paper is about just how certainly we know the Trumpy parts of the country, especially the South, were COVID-19 disasters: hundreds of thousands of excess deaths due to mask defiance, vaccine refusal, and malign conservative disinformation. • Sun 2022-Mar-27: US Republicans Against Interracial Marriage?! A Republican US Senator says he would allow states to ban interracial marriage. What?! • Fri 2022-Mar-25: On the Tension Between Hope and Despair I feel I’m walking a knife-edge between hope and despair. The news is not helping. • Sat 2022-Mar-19: Some Unexpected Inspiration on Russia & Ukraine Today I came across an unexpected source of encouragement in the matter of Russia and Ukraine. • Tue 2022-Mar-01: Ukraine & Russia: A Lack of Thoughts Somebody asked me why I haven’t said anything about the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Well… • Wed 2022-Feb-23: Pessimism and Optimism Somebody asked me why I’m always so dour. Well, times are hard: pandemic waves, disinformation & death, potential nuclear war over Ukraine, the rise of the fascist right, climate change not only unchecked but furiously denied, and so on. So let’s take some inventory of our problems… and maybe a few points that (may) cause hope for the future. • Sat 2022-Feb-19: Republicans Still a Death Cult?! Yesterday came simultaneous bits of evidence in the US that (a) COVID-19 death rates for unvaccinated are unambiguously disastrous, and (b) Republicans attempted to defund any school that takes COVID-19 protections. This is ‘death cult’ levels of badness. • Tue 2022-Feb-15: Sustaining Spirit in Hard Times: People are Complicated Times are difficult, here in the 3rd year of a global pandemic that drags on and on, because people just cannot grasp the importance of public health measures and vaccination. Anything that sustains our spirit and our belief in a good core of human nature is important. So why am I looking at dog statues on bridges in Prague? • Tue 2021-Jan-12: Apropos of nothing in particular, what exactly is 'sedition'? I was wondering what exactly it takes to commit ‘sedition’. Turns out, it’s kind of complicated. What with insurrection, threats to murder Representatives, Senators, and the Vice President last week, apparently everything is complicated. • Wed 2021-Jan-06: Democrats take Senate & Presidency; Republicans start insurrection & terrorism Today was when the Electoral College was to have been certified in Congress, sealing the fate of the presidential election. It is also the day the Democrats attained a majority in the Senate. Alas, it is also the day Republicans incited insurrectionists and terrorists against the United States government. • Mon 2020-Dec-28: You're scaring me You all are scaring me, with your science denying, mask refusing, socially close quarters, holiday travelling ways. C’mon: wear a mask, socially distance, avoid indoor gatherings, get a flu shot. At least pretend to try you want to live until the vaccine is available, ok? Then maybe you won’t randomly kill the rest of us, who do want to live. • Tue 2020-Dec-01: Alas, Arecibo Alas, for the Arecibo Observatory/National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center is no more. • Thu 2020-Nov-19: Well, that was somewhat… unsatisfying Today the AP finally called Georgia for Biden, after the hand recount. But the Senate still hangs fire until the runoff in January. And apparently, 73 million Americans somehow voted for Trump?! ## SomebodyAskedMe: • Fri 2022-May-13: But What's in Your Heart?! A plaintive cry I hear with regrettable frequency from non-science/non-math types is that we are all heartless. “But what’s really in your heart?!” they whine. Today, I’ll show you. • Thu 2022-May-12: What's in the Moderna 2022-Q1 Earnings Call? Apparently Moderna just had an earnings call, and there was some talk of whether multivalent Omicron boosters could be available in time for fall/winter 2022/2023. • Mon 2022-Apr-18: Ivermectin vs Strongyloidiasis Paper Published Somebody asked me about the evidence associating putative ivermectin effects with worms, not COVID-19. Seems like it’s been finally published! • Thu 2022-Apr-14: Passover & Late-Stage Capitalism So, it’s Passover. What might late-stage capitalism have to say about that? • Sat 2022-Mar-26: Headshot Somebody asked me to put a headshot up on this crummy little blog that nobody reads (CLBTNR). No idea why, but… • Mon 2022-Mar-07: Ivermectin Revenant Somebody asked about a recently published abstract comparing ivermectin vs remdesivir in treating COVID-19. (Sigh.) • Fri 2022-Mar-04: On the Difficulty of Making Paxlovid Somebody asked me why we don’t have enough paxlovid or bebtelovimab to go around. After mumbling “something something supply chain”, they ask another question: why can’t we just make more, and faster? Far from being naïve, that’s a very good question. • Tue 2022-Mar-01: Ukraine & Russia: A Lack of Thoughts Somebody asked me why I haven’t said anything about the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Well… • Wed 2022-Feb-23: Pessimism and Optimism Somebody asked me why I’m always so dour. Well, times are hard: pandemic waves, disinformation & death, potential nuclear war over Ukraine, the rise of the fascist right, climate change not only unchecked but furiously denied, and so on. So let’s take some inventory of our problems… and maybe a few points that (may) cause hope for the future. • Wed 2022-Feb-09: On the Moderna Monkey Trial of Omicron-Specific Boosters Somebody asked me about a report that Moderna’s monkey trial of an Omicron-specific booster wasn’t any better than the existing vaccine. What should we think about that? • Fri 2021-Oct-15: FDA Considers COVID-19 Boosters for J&J and Mix/Match Boosters Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets to review the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen application for 2nd dose boosters of their COVID-19 vaccine. They will also at least discuss the 3x3 mix-and-match booster study. • Thu 2021-Oct-14: FDA Considers COVID-19 Boosters for Moderna Spikevax Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets to review the Moderna application for 3rd dose boosters of their COVID-19 vaccine, Spikevax. Wonderful name aside, there should be a good case to be made as well. • Fri 2021-Sep-17: FDA Considers COVID-19 Boosters for Pfizer Comirnaty Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets to review the Pfizer/BioNTech application for 3rd dose boosters of their COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty. Opinion is divided, so there will be some arguing. I’m makin’ popcorn. • Sun 2021-Aug-29: Vaccination vs Hospitalization Rates: Simpson's Paradox Somebody asked me about why the vaccines are high efficacy with rare breakthrough infections, but we can see a high fraction of the hospitalized are vaccinated? Right, very puzzling. Then somebody else asked me what I thought of an article about Simpson’s paradox in the context of COVID. Ding, ding, ding, ding! • Wed 2021-Aug-18: COVID-19 Vaccines and Alzheimers: Analyzing the Myth Somebody asked me about whether the COVID-19 vaccines prevented Alzheimers. Wait, what? • Tue 2021-Aug-17: COVID-19 Vaccines and Infertility: Analyzing the Myth Somebody asked me about whether the COVID-19 vaccine could cause infertility. Wait, what? • Thu 2021-Jul-29: Anger Among the Vaccinated Somebody asked me why vaccinated people in the US seemed to be always so angry at the unvaccinated. Hmpf. • Wed 2021-Jun-30: ZDoggMD on the Delta Variant Somebody asked me what I thought of ZDogg’s explanation of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant. My first thought was “ZDogg who? Is that a rapper or something?” My final thought was that the guy’s eminently reasonable, eloquent, and kind. • Sat 2021-Jun-19: The Weekend Retirement Portfolio After reading my rant on the superiority of Treasury bonds vs corporate bonds as a stock diversifier, of course somebody asked me what the retirement portfolio of the denizens of Chez Weekend looked like. Basically: index funds, heavily diversified across bond types, stock sizes, valuations, and nations. • Tue 2021-Jun-01: Bayes Rule vs The Millionaire Next Door Somebody asked me (back in 2012!) about the famous book, The Millionaire Next Door. It’s good as far as it goes; it just doesn’t go nearly as far as almost everybody thinks! • Wed 2021-Mar-24: Today I got shot (again) Today I got shot (again). In the good sense: the second dose of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. • Tue 2021-Mar-23: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine trial (and its further discontents!) Somebody asked me about the AstraZeneca press release on their new Phase 3 vaccine trial. AstraZeneca has done it again… just not in a good way. • Wed 2021-Mar-17: The AstraZeneca/Oxford Vaccine vs Blood Clots Somebody asked me whether worries the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and dangerous blood clotting seen in some patients were a real problem. You know what the anti-vaxxers are gonna say; what do the data say? • Wed 2021-Mar-10: Republicans vs Herd Immunity If a large enough clade of US persons refuse COVID-19 vaccination, herd immunity may never be reached. Right now in the US, that clade seems to be White Republicans. (World-wide, it’s of course more complicated.) • Mon 2021-Mar-08: I guess I like Dolly Parton?! There is an apparently famous American country music singer named Dolly Parton. I was never a fan because… country music, ugh! But it appears I need to be a fan of the woman herself, because of her philanthropy and her encouragment of vaccination. Hmm… I had no idea. • Fri 2021-Feb-26: Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 review by FDA external advisory committee Today the J&J COVID-19 vaccine gets reviewed by VRBPAC (Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee) at the FDA, for an EUA (Emergency Use Authorization). Let’s have a look through their submission documents! • Sun 2020-Nov-29: We need the Talmudic argument style… someday Somebody asked me about the style of argument used when discussing the Talmud, a centuries-long rabbinical dialog on Jewish Law. The style involves not so much winning (though there is that), but mostly about understanding multiple points of view. Sound like something the world could use about now? • Fri 2020-Nov-27: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine interim readout (and its discontents) Somebody asked me about the early readout this week of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine Phase 3 trial. Initially they said 70% efficacy. It’s not a stunningly good 95% result like Pfizer or Moderna; still, it’s a good, craftsmanlike bit of work. But then… things got weird. • Thu 2020-Oct-15: Statins & ACE inhibitors & ARB blockers as COVID-19 therapeutics? Somebody asked me (honest!) about a news item linking improved treatment outcomes for COVID-19 with patients using statin and ACE inhibitor drugs. Very preliminary stuff, and the effect size is not giant, but it is peer-reviewed and looks quite legit. Not gonna change the world, but even small bits of good news are welcome. • Wed 2020-Sep-02: What's in the Moderna Q2 earnings call? Somebody asked me (different “somebody” this time, though the same subject) about the Moderna Q2 earnings call. Do I look like I know the answer to questions like that?! On close inspection, though, it looks like a python swallowing a pig: a smallish company tackling a big problem with COVID vaccines. • Fri 2020-Aug-07: What's that stupid avatar? Somebody asked me, “What’s that stupid avatar on your blog?” It’s a reminder that even simple questions show infinite complexity if you look closely enough. And sometimes even if you don’t! • Sat 2020-Aug-01: What's happening in the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine phase 3 start? Somebody asked me (really it’s the same “somebody” behind all of these) about the Moderna COVID vaccine phase 3 start. Basically, it looks like the start of a reasonably designed Phase 3 trial: the beginning of a long slog to test safety & efficacy. • Wed 2020-Jul-15: What's in the Phase 1/2 readout of the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine? Ok, so I finally tracked down the official Phase 1/2 readout of the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine (whose Phase 3 delay we commented on about 10 days ago). Here are some quick thoughts, but the top line seems to be very good. • Sun 2020-Jul-05: And what about the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine Phase 3 delay? Somebody asked me — same troublemakers, in case you’re curious — about whether the Moderna/Lonza Phase 1/2 vaccine trial looked reasonable and if the delay of Phase 3 start for a protocol amendment was reasonable. Sure seems so! No, it’s not an investment signal. • Sat 2020-Jul-04: What's in the Phase 1/2 readout of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine? Somebody asked me what’s in the Phase 1/2 readout of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine. Of course they wanted to know about the trial results, but they also wanted to know if it is an investment signal. It is not. • Fri 2020-Jul-03: Is the racial makeup of the Boston Police Department unrepresentative? Somebody asked me about this article in the Boston Globe by Vernal Coleman on the racial makeup of the Boston Police Department: does it resemble the community it polices? • Thu 2020-Jul-02: The Retirement of Iphegenia Somebody asked me, “What’s your retirement plan?” ## Statistics: • Sun 2022-May-08: The Highest-Vaccination Ethnic Group in the US, Redux Remember last year when we noted the highest-vaccination ethnic group in the US? They’re still winning, and it shows in the statistics. • Tue 2022-May-03: How Can Evusheld Possibly Work?! Evusheld is an antibody infusion which confers about 6 months of vaccine-like immunity to COVID-19. How can that possibly work, when antibodies last a few days to a few weeks?! • Mon 2022-Apr-18: Ivermectin vs Strongyloidiasis Paper Published Somebody asked me about the evidence associating putative ivermectin effects with worms, not COVID-19. Seems like it’s been finally published! • Fri 2022-Apr-01: Today: Shot for the 7th time Today I got my 7th vaccination shot in the last 12 months. Happily. • Fri 2022-Mar-18: COVID-19: Lessons Learned & Another Booster We would like to think we’ve learned a few things from our collective COVID-19 experience, but the evidence is somewhat equivocal. What we’ve definitely learned is that there will almost certainly be another booster. • Mon 2022-Mar-07: Ivermectin Revenant Somebody asked about a recently published abstract comparing ivermectin vs remdesivir in treating COVID-19. (Sigh.) • Fri 2022-Feb-11: FDA VRBPAC To Consider Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids 6mo - 4yr On Monday 2022-Feb-15 the FDA’s VRBPAC will meet to consider Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for ages 6mo - 2yr. It worked for 6mo - 2yr, but not for 2yr - 4yr. A 3rd dose is being tested for 2yr - 4yr, but the FDA invited this application so parents can get their kids started on the first 2 doses while waiting for data on the 3rd. Unusual? Very! • Wed 2022-Feb-09: On the Moderna Monkey Trial of Omicron-Specific Boosters Somebody asked me about a report that Moderna’s monkey trial of an Omicron-specific booster wasn’t any better than the existing vaccine. What should we think about that? • Mon 2022-Feb-07: SARS-CoV2 Cryptic Sequences in NYC Wastewater: Why Not to Sleep Well at Night As long as we’ve got our heads in the sewers, what else is happening with wastewater SARS-CoV2 analyses? It turns out, New York City rather alarmingly has some “cryptic sequences” not yet observed in humans. This is how the virus is scheming to throw another wave at us. • Fri 2022-Feb-04: Boston Wastewater Re-Re-Visited: Sewage Viral RNA vs COVID-19 Cases and Deaths In 2020-November and 2021-May, we looked at the SARS-CoV2 mRNA in Boston wastewater. It’s relation to medical loads was erratic. How’s it look with another 9 months of data? • Fri 2022-Jan-28: The Ten Billionth Dose There have now been around 10 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses given. What should we make of that? • Wed 2022-Jan-26: Pan-Coronavirus Vaccines Last October, we noted that NIAID had granted36 million for the development of a pan-coronavirus vaccine. Time for an report: how’s that working out?
• Thu 2022-Jan-06: Reeeeeeally long COVID!
How long can COVID-19 go on? If you answered less than $O(10^4)$ years until everyone with susceptible genes is dead… well, think again.
• Sat 2022-Jan-01: L'état du blog: 2021
A full calendar year of blogging has passed. So, thankfully, has the annus horribilis 2021CE. How did we come out? (The blog, that is. 2021 itself is still too traumatizing to discuss.)
• Tue 2021-Dec-14: Veni, veni paxlovid!
Today Pfizer announced they’ve submitted the final data package to the FDA for their COVID-19 anti-viral oral therapy, paxlovid. Wanna take a look at the (scant) data we have so far, as a holiday gift of sorts to all of humanity?
• Fri 2021-Dec-10: The Weekend Editrix Exposed to COVID-19: An Adventure with Bayes Rule in Medical Testing
Last weekend, the Weekend Editrix was exposed to a person who tested positive for COVID-19. The need for rapid testing suddenly became very real for us. While waiting for the test to work, we worked out the Bayesian stats for the test: a positive test means near-100% chance of COVID-19, while a negative test means 89.4% chance of no COVID-19.
• Mon 2021-Dec-06: Omicron vs Delta
Will the Omicron variant outcompete Delta? Starting to look like it. Will that be a bad thing? Dunno, could go either way depending on reinfection rate and severity.
• Thu 2021-Dec-02: Mea Culpa: Efficacies Don't Average!
A couple days ago, commenting at TheZvi, I blithely averaged efficacies from the early and late cohorts of the molnupiravir trial. Fellow commenter Thomas pointed out that this is not correct! This post is a mea culpa and a lesson to myself on How to Do It Right.
• Tue 2021-Nov-30: FDA AMDAC Considers Merck's Molnupiravir
Today the FDA’s Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee (AMDAC) meets to decide whether or not to recommend emergency use authorization (EUA) of Merck’s molnupiravir, and antiviral therapy for mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults. Wanna read along?
• Sat 2021-Nov-27: So, nu? (I mean… So, omicron?)
There’s a new SARS-CoV2 variant. How bad does it look? Nobody really knows, but it’s got the potential to be very, very bad.
• Tue 2021-Nov-23: COVID-19: Is it 'over'?
With vaccination rates rising (albeit glacially slowly), and new therapeutics like molnupiravir and paxlovid about to be approved, people are asking: is it over? My take is: probably not.
• Fri 2021-Nov-19: A Couple Ivermectin Takedowns
The right-wing knuckleheadedness around ivermectin as a COVID-19 therapy continues to amaze me. This week I came across 2 ivermectin takedowns: a Malaysian clinical trial and Scott Alexander’s dissection of the ivmmeta.com metanalysis. Two thumbs down. Way down.
• Tue 2021-Nov-16: COVID-19 Continues to Kill Conservatives
Charles Gaba has updated his county-level COVID-19 vax rates and death rates, versus percentage of Trump voters. It’s not pretty.
• Fri 2021-Nov-12: On New COVID-19 Therapeutics
Vaccines are great, but now there are some exciting new treatments for COVID-19, in case you get a breakthrough infection (or made the wrong choice about accepting vaccination). Let’s look at how well they work, and what they might cost in comparison to other things.
• Thu 2021-Nov-04: Natural vs Vaccine Immunity, Redux
Last summer, we saw some evidence that COVID-19 vaccination conferred better immunity than ‘natural’ immunity from recovering from the disease. How has that held up in the face of new evidence?
• Mon 2021-Nov-01: When Was the Norse Settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland?
Hey, let’s think about something that’s not COVID-19! Like, for example: when exactly did the Norse settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland happen?
• Sat 2021-Oct-30: The Partisan Divide on COVID-19 Deaths
COVID-19 death rates in the US are nakedly partisan. So is mask resistance. So is delusional belief about nonsensical use of ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. Care to draw a conclusion?
• Tue 2021-Oct-26: FDA VRBPAC Considers Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids 5 – 11
Today the FDA’s Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) meets to discuss an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty for children ages 5 – 11. Lots of parents have been awaiting this for the last year and a half, with varying degress of frayed nerves.
• Mon 2021-Oct-25: Are We Close to the End of the Pandemic?
Well… are we?
• Sun 2021-Oct-24: On 'Natural' Immunity Persistence vs COVID-19
What are the consequences of relying on ‘natural’ immunity after recovery from COVID-19? Pretty grim, as it turns out.
• Wed 2021-Oct-20: State of the Blog at 1 Year
This crummy little blog that nobody reads has been around for a little more than a year. It’s time to look at the numbers and see how we’ve been doing.
• Fri 2021-Oct-15: FDA Considers COVID-19 Boosters for J&J and Mix/Match Boosters
Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets to review the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen application for 2nd dose boosters of their COVID-19 vaccine. They will also at least discuss the 3x3 mix-and-match booster study.
• Thu 2021-Oct-14: FDA Considers COVID-19 Boosters for Moderna Spikevax
Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets to review the Moderna application for 3rd dose boosters of their COVID-19 vaccine, Spikevax. Wonderful name aside, there should be a good case to be made as well.
• Mon 2021-Oct-04: COVID-19 Miscellany
Do you want the good news first?
• Fri 2021-Sep-17: FDA Considers COVID-19 Boosters for Pfizer Comirnaty
Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets to review the Pfizer/BioNTech application for 3rd dose boosters of their COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty. Opinion is divided, so there will be some arguing. I’m makin’ popcorn.
• Tue 2021-Sep-14: Today I got shot (a fifth time)
Today I got shot for the fifth time this year. Again, not guns and not COVID, execrable as they both are. Influenza vaccination this time.
• Mon 2021-Sep-13: On the ratio of Beta-distributed random variables
[Warning: Post contains full frontal nerdity. Bug reports appreciated!] I finally got a copy of Pham-Gia’s paper on the distribution of the ratio of 2 independent Beta-distributed random variables. While I still have some childhood trauma around hypergeometric functions like ${}_{2}F_{1}()$ and its even scarier big brother ${}_{3}F_{2}()$… it’s time to face my fears.
• Tue 2021-Aug-31: Today I got shot (a fourth time)
Today I got shot for the fourth time this year. No, not the COVID-19 booster (yet). The second dose of Shingrix, for shingles.
• Sun 2021-Aug-29: Vaccination vs Hospitalization Rates: Simpson's Paradox
Somebody asked me about why the vaccines are high efficacy with rare breakthrough infections, but we can see a high fraction of the hospitalized are vaccinated? Right, very puzzling. Then somebody else asked me what I thought of an article about Simpson’s paradox in the context of COVID. Ding, ding, ding, ding!
• Sun 2021-Aug-29: ZDoggMD on telling COVID stories to motivate vaccination
I’m a data-driven guy who detests persuasian by emotional anecdotes. But most people are, to my dismay, different in that regard. ZDoggMD does a good job today of persuading them.
• Wed 2021-Aug-04: Vaccine Efficacy, Delta Variant, and the CDC Changes
Last week several bombs were dropped: COVID vaccine efficacy with the Delta variant, breakthrough infections, asymptomatic carriers, and changes in CDC guidelines. Was the panicky media coverage at all useful?
• Thu 2021-Jul-29: Anger Among the Vaccinated
Somebody asked me why vaccinated people in the US seemed to be always so angry at the unvaccinated. Hmpf.
• Mon 2021-Jul-19: COVID-19 Vaccination is Better Than Natural Immunity
Periodically I meet people who think “natural” immunity from having had COVID-19 is somehow better than being vaccinated. A new Israeli study plumbs the depths of just how wrong that is.
• Fri 2021-Jul-16: The Highest-Vaccination Ethnic Group in the US
What ethnic group in the US do you think has the highest vaccination rate?
• Mon 2021-Jul-12: Thoughts on Variants & Vaccines
The variants are starting to pile up. Unless we vaccinate everybody faster, there are going to be variants which evade vaccines and then we start all over. How close are we to that?
• Tue 2021-Jul-06: Vaccinations vs Votes
Back in April, we did some statistical analysis showing Trumpy states tended to have dramatically lower vaccination rates. Is that still the case? Regrettably, yes: more than ever.
• Tue 2021-Jun-29: Today I got shot (a third time)
Today I got shot a third time! No, not a COVID-19 booster (though that’s getting pretty interesting, but its time is not yet). Today I got the first of 2 doses of the formerly-scarce Shingrix vaccine against shingles.
• Sat 2021-Jun-19: The Weekend Retirement Portfolio
After reading my rant on the superiority of Treasury bonds vs corporate bonds as a stock diversifier, of course somebody asked me what the retirement portfolio of the denizens of Chez Weekend looked like. Basically: index funds, heavily diversified across bond types, stock sizes, valuations, and nations.
• Mon 2021-Jun-07: Stock Diversifiers: Treasury vs Corporate Bonds?
If you invest in US stocks, you certainly want to diversify with some bonds for risk control, availability of funds for rebalancing, and earning some income. Should you use Treasury bonds (which earn approximately nothing, but are safe) or corporate bonds (which earn something, but are riskier)?
• Tue 2021-Jun-01: Bayes Rule vs The Millionaire Next Door
Somebody asked me (back in 2012!) about the famous book, The Millionaire Next Door. It’s good as far as it goes; it just doesn’t go nearly as far as almost everybody thinks!
• Fri 2021-May-21: Wastewater Revisited: Metagenomic Viral RNA and Medical Loads
Last November, we looked at metagenomics of sewage SARS-CoV-2 RNA vs medical loads in Boston. The results then were inconclusive. There’s a lot more data now. Does the mRNA in sewage actually predict anything useful about COVID hospital admission, ICU admission, ventilator use, and death? Yes, it does.
• Thu 2021-May-06: Good news on vaccines vs variants!
Some good news, for once: the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is now known to work quite well against the British & South African variants in the real world. Especially in preventing hospitalization and death.
• Sat 2021-Apr-24: The Billionth Dose
As of yesterday, we passed a remarkable milestone: the billionth COVID-19 vaccination dose has been administered.
• Mon 2021-Apr-19: Politics vs mask use & vaccine uptake in the US
Does political alignment in the US inform medically-relevant behaviors like mask use and vaccine uptake? Alas, yes: but not in a good way.
• Tue 2021-Mar-23: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine trial (and its further discontents!)
Somebody asked me about the AstraZeneca press release on their new Phase 3 vaccine trial. AstraZeneca has done it again… just not in a good way.
• Wed 2021-Mar-17: The AstraZeneca/Oxford Vaccine vs Blood Clots
Somebody asked me whether worries the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and dangerous blood clotting seen in some patients were a real problem. You know what the anti-vaxxers are gonna say; what do the data say?
• Mon 2021-Mar-15: US Senate: does one party filibuster more?
Sen McConnell claims the Democrats abuse the filibuster! (Because of course he does.) But what do the data say?
• Fri 2021-Feb-26: Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 review by FDA external advisory committee
Today the J&J COVID-19 vaccine gets reviewed by VRBPAC (Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee) at the FDA, for an EUA (Emergency Use Authorization). Let’s have a look through their submission documents!
• Wed 2021-Feb-24: Why did Republicans block a Trump impeachment guilty verdict?
It’s been a couple weeks, so we’ve all calmed down a little. But still… why did 43 Republican senators vote to block the obvious guilty verdict in Trump’s impeachment?
• Thu 2021-Jan-14: COVID-19 loves Republican politicians
Suppose you had 2 groups of politicians, but one of them thought a pandemic was “fake news”, refused to wear masks, congregated indoors with no social distancing, blocked public health spending, mocked public health guidance, was proud of their ignorance, and were just in general jerks about the subject. Do you think they’d get infected with the disease more often than their opponents?
• Wed 2020-Dec-30: Serious adverse event frequency: about like getting struck by lightning?
Explaining to COVID vaccine clinical trial participants that the probability of a certain serious adverse event is 1/50,000 or less doesn’t work. Most people instantly stop listening at the slightest whiff of mathematics, including ordinary numbers. But if you compare it to being struck by lightning, that makes sense to most people. Can you guess what happened next?
• Fri 2020-Dec-18: XKCD explains it all
Randall Munroe, the mad cartoonist behind XKCD, explains COVID-19 vaccine approvals. And channels Lord Rutherford. Simultaneously.
• Tue 2020-Dec-15: Another beautiful vaccine: a look into the Moderna FDA EUA submission package
Somebody asked me about the contents of the Moderna EUA application for their COVID-19 vaccine. Summary: It is also quite beautiful.
• Sat 2020-Dec-12: Are the Pfizer vaccine's efficacy confidence intervals sensible?
Somebody asked me about the confidence intervals Pfizer reported for vaccine efficacy in various age groups. Some of them are negative! Are they sensible?
• Tue 2020-Dec-08: A beautiful vaccine: a look into the Pfizer/BioNTech FDA EUA submission package
Ok, nobody asked me this time, because for once I got out ahead of them. It seems Pfizer/BioNTech submitted an EUA (“emergency use authorization”) package to the FDA. What’s it look like?
• Wed 2020-Dec-02: Proposed source of the "Wow!" signal?
The sad news about Arecibo brings up the topic of SETI. In better news, an amateur astronomer has proposed a particular star as the source of the famous “Wow!” event, using the Gaia Archive. Wait, what?
• Mon 2020-Nov-30: What size were the factions in the US election?
So we just had an election. You may have heard there were some rather sharply drawn sides. How big were each of the factions?
• Fri 2020-Nov-27: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine interim readout (and its discontents)
Somebody asked me about the early readout this week of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine Phase 3 trial. Initially they said 70% efficacy. It’s not a stunningly good 95% result like Pfizer or Moderna; still, it’s a good, craftsmanlike bit of work. But then… things got weird.
• Wed 2020-Nov-18: On COVID vaccine protection persistence
Everybody’s worried about how long the protection from a COVID vaccine will last, whether there can be reinfections, and so on. How much do we actually know about that as of now?
• Mon 2020-Nov-16: Moderna/Lonza vaccine interim readout: 95% efficacy!
Today the Moderna/Lonza vaccine trial vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 95% efficacy! Also, 100% prevention of severe cases of COVID-19. Like last week’s Pfizer/BioNTech interim readout, this is again unabashedly good news.
• Mon 2020-Nov-09: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine interim readout: 90% efficacy!
Today the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 90% efficacy. This is unabashedly good news.
• Wed 2020-Nov-04: Wastewater coronavirus RNA vs medical loads
Previously, we mentioned there were data showing the level of coronavirus RNA in metro Boston wastewater, and speculated that it might be predictive of medical loads like hospitalization and death rates. The truth turns out to be weirder than that (comme d’habitude).
• Mon 2020-Nov-02: Coronavirus & Elections: The Winter of Our Discontent
The election is coming, with a possibility of right-wing violence and subversion. COVID-19 is forming up for another wave of infections. Winter is coming. It’s terrifying, but there are some things you can do.
• Thu 2020-Oct-15: Statins & ACE inhibitors & ARB blockers as COVID-19 therapeutics?
Somebody asked me (honest!) about a news item linking improved treatment outcomes for COVID-19 with patients using statin and ACE inhibitor drugs. Very preliminary stuff, and the effect size is not giant, but it is peer-reviewed and looks quite legit. Not gonna change the world, but even small bits of good news are welcome.
• Fri 2020-Oct-02: Election Night of the Living Beta Binomials
As you may have heard, the US is about to face an election more contentious than any since the Civil War. With vote counting likely drawn out due to right-wing mischief at, for example, the Post Office, what are we to make of partial returns as far as predicting the outcome? And will there be zombies?
• Fri 2020-Jul-03: Is the racial makeup of the Boston Police Department unrepresentative?

• Fri 2022-Mar-11: XKCD: Qua
XKCD qua XKCD is just XKCD. Latin does things to your mind.
• Sat 2022-Jan-01: L'état du blog: 2021
A full calendar year of blogging has passed. So, thankfully, has the annus horribilis 2021CE. How did we come out? (The blog, that is. 2021 itself is still too traumatizing to discuss.)
• Wed 2021-Dec-29: In Celebration of Mid-Winter Beauty
Winter is just objectively the best time of year. Do not attempt to correct me on this matter.
• Wed 2021-Dec-15: Tis the Season… of the Analemma
It’s that season again: the time of nerdly meditations on the analemma. The shortest day of the year, Dec 21, is yet to come. But for night owls, the day of earliest sunset (at the latitude of Château Weekend) was Dec 8th. How can that be? That’s the tale of the analemma!
• Mon 2021-Nov-08: Three Lessons from COVID
COVID-19 has taught us some lessons about (a) how mind-numbingly stupid and corrupt we can be, and (b) some forms of corruption that are so confusing that I can’t tell if they are the divine madness or instead just &Gammad;ΤΦ.
• Wed 2021-Oct-20: State of the Blog at 1 Year
This crummy little blog that nobody reads has been around for a little more than a year. It’s time to look at the numbers and see how we’ve been doing.
• Tue 2021-Oct-05: The Man Who Wins New England Autumn
Today I learned of a hero, engaged in a Great Work that is clearly a service to all humanity. Oh, and there were donuts, too.
• Thu 2021-Sep-16: Some days I feel like this dog
Problem-solving skills are important.
• Mon 2021-Sep-13: On the ratio of Beta-distributed random variables
[Warning: Post contains full frontal nerdity. Bug reports appreciated!] I finally got a copy of Pham-Gia’s paper on the distribution of the ratio of 2 independent Beta-distributed random variables. While I still have some childhood trauma around hypergeometric functions like ${}_{2}F_{1}()$ and its even scarier big brother ${}_{3}F_{2}()$… it’s time to face my fears.
• Sat 2021-Sep-11: On war memorials
Today marks 2 decades since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in NYC, the Pentagon in DC, and a third target that was spared because airline passengers forced a crash in Shanksville, PA. It also marks, with the recent US withdrawal from Afghanistan, at least a winding down, though possibly not a complete ending, of 20 years of war. It’s time to think about war memorials… sort of.
• Mon 2021-Sep-06: Rosh Hashanah: A Chance to Start Over on Labor Day
Today is Labor Day in the US. It’s also Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. What can we make of that coincidence, even without being Jewish?
• Wed 2021-May-12: More sense about vaccines from Hank Green
Hank Green once again has one or two true and useful words to say to young people about COVID-19 vaccination.
• Thu 2021-Apr-01: April foolishness
Today is April Fool’s Day. Attrapons le poisson d’avril!
• Sun 2021-Mar-14: Pi Day: Are you still using decimal notation?!
Today is Pi Day (3/14). You’re not still using decimal, are you?
• Tue 2020-Dec-29: Santa and the cops
Here at Chez Weekend, there’s a rumor circulating that on Christmas Eve, Santa got pulled over by the cops?!
• Mon 2020-Dec-21: Winter solstice, Dodds's Day, and the Weekend Editrix's Day
Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. It is not, however, the day of earliest sunset (of interest to night owls). Nor is it the day of latest sunrise (of interest to morning… people). Therein lies the tale of the analemma, first told to me long ago by a marvelous former colleague, Doug Dodds.
• Fri 2020-Dec-18: XKCD explains it all
Randall Munroe, the mad cartoonist behind XKCD, explains COVID-19 vaccine approvals. And channels Lord Rutherford. Simultaneously.
• Mon 2020-Dec-14: My cat is a fin-de-siècle French night club cat?!
Apparently the Weekend Publisher, occasionally also known as “my cat”, is the reincarnation of the spirit animal of a fin-de-siècle cabaret in Paris.
• Sun 2020-Nov-29: We need the Talmudic argument style… someday
Somebody asked me about the style of argument used when discussing the Talmud, a centuries-long rabbinical dialog on Jewish Law. The style involves not so much winning (though there is that), but mostly about understanding multiple points of view. Sound like something the world could use about now?
• Tue 2020-Nov-24: Some sense about vaccines from Hank Green
Hank Green (notable web producer, author, and master of miscellany) recorded his weekly vlog to his brother about whether he would take a COVID vaccine. Roughly: “oh hell yeah!” (though far more entertainingly).
• Sat 2020-Oct-24: At autumn in New England, thoughts turn to...
At autumn in New England, thoughts turn to the extreme beauty of nature, the weather turning more comfortably cooler & drier, cinnamon and nutmeg smells everywhere, and… trebuchets, catapaults, air cannons, and other implements of imparting to pumpkins various levels of sub-orbital trajectories.
• Fri 2020-Oct-02: Election Night of the Living Beta Binomials
As you may have heard, the US is about to face an election more contentious than any since the Civil War. With vote counting likely drawn out due to right-wing mischief at, for example, the Post Office, what are we to make of partial returns as far as predicting the outcome? And will there be zombies?
• Thu 2020-Jul-02: The Retirement of Iphegenia