In the Midst of the Coronavirus Crisis, We Must Start Envisioning the Future Now

Sixteen years ago, in the very early days of medical genetic testing, I received a positive result for one of the BRCA mutations, which are correlated with a vastly increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers. I began interviewing doctors and genetic counsellors, in order to decide whether to have preventive surgeries—and, if so, which ones.

I quickly understood that the science of cancer prevention had a tunnel-vision problem: I was counselled to undergo surgeries that would lower my risk of cancer but vastly increase other health risks.

I joked that cancer prevention would be the more successful the sooner I died of something else.



Posted in Cancer, Coronavirus, Healthcare, Women

The forgotten story of … how Spanish flu tore apart the 1919 Stanley Cup final

Joan Niesen of Ther Guardian –

Just over 100 years ago, the world was in the midst of a pandemic. And just like now it caused havoc in the world of sports.


Posted in Shutdown, Sports | Tagged

What Should The Government Spend To Save A Life? Economists have done the math.

Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux in FiveThirtyEight –

The staggering economic toll of the new coronavirus is becoming abundantly, unavoidably clear. As economic forecasts grow darker, talk of tradeoffs is getting louder: Is protecting Americans from COVID-19 really worth all this disruption and economic pain?

On March 22, before President Trump floated the idea of reopening the economy by Easter, against the recommendations of his own public health experts, he tweeted, “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF.” Other politicians, meanwhile, rejected the idea that economic costs should be a factor at all. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo dismissed Trump’s push to get the economy moving again, saying, “No American is going to say, ‘accelerate the economy at the cost of human life.’ Because no American is going to say how much a life is worth.”

Cuomo’s sentiment might be a nice bit of political rhetoric, but it’s not really true. Economists might not be able to say how much an individual person’s existence is worth, but they have figured out a way to calculate how much the average person is willing to pay to reduce the risk of death — which allows them to put a price tag on the collective value of saving one life.


Posted in civilization, Controversial, Coronavirus, Economics, FiveThirtyEight, government, Healthcare, Media, polls, Science, Technology, Thought-Provoking Analysis

How Coronavirus Tests Actually Work

Maggie Koerth of FiveThirtyEight –

The coronavirus crisis is in large part a testing crisis. We are reading about tests. Arguing about tests. And, in many cases, struggling mightily to obtain tests for ourselves. But while test shortages are making headlines, there’s a lot about the technology behind these tests that isn’t as clear to the public.


Posted in Crisis communication, FiveThirtyEight | Tagged

Artificial intelligence may be pandemic lifesaver … one day

Rob Lever with Julie Jammot of AFP (French language article translated to English on Yahoo News) –

Artificial intelligence systems picked up early clues about the coronavirus outbreak by scanning news images and social media posts from a market in Wuhan, China, where the first cases were detected.


On December 30, researchers using artificial intelligence systems to comb through media and social platforms detected the spread of an unusual flu-like illness in Wuhan, China.

It would be days before the World Health Organization released a risk assessment and a full month before the UN agency declared a global public health emergency for the novel coronavirus.

Could the AI systems have accelerated the process and limited, or even arrested, the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic?



Posted in Artificial Intelligence, China, United States