Jim Jones was a piker

When I was young, a big news story was the mass suicide/murder at Jim Jones’s religious cult in Guyana, where 918 people died, mostly Americans. One congressman investigating the cult also died.

If Alex Tabarrok is right, then the US might be about to engage in a mass suicide that would put Jim Jones to shame. We are refusing to approve the new AstraZeneca vaccine that’s already been approved in the UK and the EU, even though doing so could save many tens of thousands of lives.

And our press isn’t even discussing the issue; there are much more pressing issues to be addressed such as speculation in GameStop shares.

As Bob Dole used to say, “Where’s the outrage?”



26 Responses to “Jim Jones was a piker”

  1. Gravatar of Garrett Garrett
    2. February 2021 at 12:39

    And the Russian is over 90% effective. I doubt it EVER gets approved though because “Russia is bad.”

  2. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    2. February 2021 at 13:14

    You might be right—-but I am not as sure as you. There is the world to think about—so we are going to be short no matter what. AstraZeneca is more available for other countries.

    If the US focused on age rather than “essential” people (like the 25 year old teller in my bank) first, we would be better off—–I am unable to get the shot and I am a few years older than you. I am a bit chill about it—maybe more than I should be. My wife is your age. My oldest daughter is ticked off and she said she will get us shots this week (I doubt it).

    Having said that it is absurd we are not approving the drug—-who is in charge? I actually do not know. Who are these FDA people? Who do they report to? What are their names? So, for that reason, and the aforementioned reason this whole thing is outrageous.

  3. Gravatar of xu xu
    2. February 2021 at 14:00

    Here is what happens when you support communist/socialist agendas:


    In France, your old and frail body would be considered “expendable”, and the utilitarian apparatchiks would deny you a vaccine altogether. Are you ready to come back to the camp that promulgates individuality and liberty, or are you still firmly in the Biden/Harris CCP camp?

    You might also have access to the Pfizer vaccine had the Biden administration not “misplaced 20,000”, or given the first doses to brutally tortured GTMO prisoners. This is what happens when you replace a businessman with a corrupt apparatchik who never developed a product or service, or had to be accountable for anyone, anywhere, ever.

    Yet, somehow he owns three Ferraris. Amazing!

  4. Gravatar of jayne jayne
    2. February 2021 at 14:04

    What is the point of taking the vaccine if you have to wear four masks, shut down your business, and social distance?

    A UK man was just arrested for providing soup to starving people.

    Is this your idea of a solution?

  5. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    2. February 2021 at 14:21

    Michael, You said:

    “There is the world to think about—so we are going to be short no matter what.”

    It’s not zero sum; we should be producing more AstraZeneca vaccine.

  6. Gravatar of Todd Kreider Todd Kreider
    2. February 2021 at 14:40

    Interesting. I don’t remember Scott or Alex T using the rhetoric of mass suicide when the destructive and pointless lockdowns were imposed in March.

    Arnold Kling quoted economist Robin Hanson who has a physics background from a recent interview:

    “Pandemic experts have had their standard story about what to do in a pandemic that goes back decades. And, you know, you can look on all their standard writings about, you know, what to do about travel bans or what to do about masks or what to do about quarantines and all those sorts of things. And they’ve had their standard story about what to do in a pandemic. And there was no particularly new information that showed up except as soon as we had a pandemic, all the experts, all the elites in the world suddenly decided, “That’s a subject to talk about.” The elites went wild talking to each other about pandemics and the elites decided that they did want masks and they did what quarantines and lockdowns, and they did want travel bans. And so, the elites declared that was the better thing. And they, the experts, caved immediately. As soon as the elites declared that that was better, the experts changed their mind about what the expert judgment was just like in 1984.”

  7. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    2. February 2021 at 15:09

    Germany is not better, rather worse. Even the EU, i.e. the EMA, has now fully approved AstraZeneca’s vaccine, but a German commission has actually intervened and effectively banned the vaccine in Germany for people aged 65 and older. These are just the people who need the vaccine the most. This is pure madness.

    The US now has a vaccination coverage that is apparently five times the EU rate. And most of that is due to Trump, who delivered an embarrassingly poor Covid-19 performance.

    The Western world has really gone mad regarding its Covid-19 reaction in huge parts.

    A deadlier pandemic and we would probably die out. Maybe that would be better for the world and kind of a salvation?

    Today there was a “vaccination summit” in Germany. Merkel declared afterwards in her famous baby language:

    For me it was an important educational talk. And I can say for myself: I learned a few things. We talked to the industry, those who produce the vaccine. The representatives said that they were working with a very high level of risk and commitment. Many components were involved, they said. It’s complex. We learned we can’t order in mid-November and then have enough vaccine in the first quarter of 2021.

    Trump was crucified for his baby talk. Merkel has been doing this for 16 years and the media around the world write: Oh gosh, she’s so smart. Leader of the Western world.

  8. Gravatar of Mark Z Mark Z
    2. February 2021 at 15:46

    What may be worse even than the people who die waiting for a vaccine is the long term implications of dragging our feet. Right now the virus still hasn’t had that much time to mutate and ‘diversify,’ which is why early on in a pandemic is the best time to vaccinate. But as new strains emerge, not only do vaccines become less effective, but even any new vaccine is likely to only work on a subset of strains and thus not be broadly effective. And of course each new strain, especially if it becomes dominant, can take us back to square one of vaccine development (not quite, I guess, but it could easily set us back months). That’s my fear: by the time we get a critical mass of people vaccinated several months from now, multiple new strains resistant to the vaccines may be running wild, rendering existent vaccines partly moot. These vaccines, people seem to forget, have a shelf-life. They’re only useful until (it’s a matter of when, not if) the virus escapes them.

    This may be a pessimistic scenario, but not farfetched. The possibility that we’re hobbling our ability to control the virus for years to come with our senseless ‘caution’ today should factor more into cost-benefit analysis (there’s a good joke, the FDA engaging in cost-benefit analysis).

  9. Gravatar of bob bob
    2. February 2021 at 16:31

    If mass suicide occurs I do hope that BLM, ANTIFA, AOC, and other radical communists are the first to go. Our world would be filled with nothing but beauty and love if it wasn’t for the big government transhuman and posthuman red commie radicals

  10. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    2. February 2021 at 16:35

    @Mark Z
    I don’t think vaccinations are becoming ineffective so far. As far as I have read, Biontech simply took almost all of the spike protein and translated it into mRNA. The virus cannot change certain proteins in every way without becoming ineffective.

    But it is true that we are losing valuable time. Mutations can make the virus more dangerous and prevent eradication. So in the end we have a virus that we may not be able to get rid of, which will plague us for a long periods of time, such as influenza.

    But it’s also interesting: since we’ve been wearing masks and so forth, there’s been much, much fewer cases of influenza, so we even could greatly reduce influenza every year if we really wanted to and if we didn’t had so many Toddmeisters.

    When this pandemic is ever over, we should definitely continue to wear masks, at least in fall, spring and winter.

  11. Gravatar of Philo Philo
    2. February 2021 at 19:35

    Where’s the outrage? This is SOP for the FDA, and for the government’s regulatory activity generally. SOP does not engender outrage.

  12. Gravatar of Todd Kreider Todd Kreider
    2. February 2021 at 19:38

    What Mr. List isn’t aware of is that influenza cases started to drop from February and sharply in March before anyone was in lockdown or wearing a mask. As a Johns Hopkins epidemiologist said in early March, this coronavirus has been dominant and has been in Darwinian competition with other viruses that cause influenza since fall of 2019.

  13. Gravatar of ee ee
    2. February 2021 at 20:18

    Alex Tabarrok and now you, Scott, have been calling for outrage. I don’t think that’s actionable. Ideally instead you would make it easier to exert political pressure by providing emails to send to representatives, petitions, and link to fund raising campaigns for raising awareness or lobbying. Americans are generally disengaged politically: only ~55% of Americans even vote. A smaller chunk than that try to influence politicians between elections. If you want more of that influence you should help to make it really easy. Even Alex, who is a star of this pandemic, has not written an article about the Astrazeneca vaccine that is sourced and convincing enough for me to send to my representative.

  14. Gravatar of Ken P Ken P
    2. February 2021 at 20:54

    I wish I could pick one off a menu. I have no problem with the mRNA platform, but would prefer additional antigens. With my spike protein, I would prefer some nucleocapsid protein and top it off with a little ORF3. Antibodies are nice, but spike proteins mutate and I would like more targets for T-cells.

    As I recall, the Pfizer approval was not unanimous so it doesn’t surprise me that FDA is not approving others yet. From an approver standpoint, downside is much more of a concern than upside. How much outcry is there when something doesn’t get approved compared to when something approved has problems?

  15. Gravatar of Mark Z Mark Z
    3. February 2021 at 00:54

    Christian, there is some evidence that current vaccines aren’t as effective against new strains (https://www.forbes.com/sites/joewalsh/2021/02/01/fauci-covid-vaccines-are-less-effective-against-new-strains—but-still-worth-taking/?sh=483599cd4933); this is from Fauci, but I’m assuming there ‘Straussian take’ here. I agree that they’re still mostly effective, but it hasn’t even been that long since we’ve been vaccinating people either. How effective they’ll be against whatever strains are emerging in a few months is a big unknown.

  16. Gravatar of Mark Z Mark Z
    3. February 2021 at 00:57

    Correction: *but I’m assuming there isn’t a ‘Straussian take’ here*

    There ought to be more outrage over Scott’s opposition to edit buttons.

  17. Gravatar of Todd Ramsey Todd Ramsey
    3. February 2021 at 06:25

    Piling on: the FDA will decide within “several weeks” whether Moderna will be allowed to increase the amount of vaccine per vial from 10 doses to 15 doses.

    The availability of vials is currently a constraining factor in the production process.


  18. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    3. February 2021 at 11:12

    @Mark Z

    How effective they’ll be against whatever strains are emerging in a few months is a big unknown.

    I agree about that there are currently no good predictions about whether we will get rid of Covid-19 or whether we will get a second influenza disease. There have been so many prognoses regarding Covid-19 in just one year, the accuracy rate is hardly better than 50:50. It is really difficult to pick out the right statements – unless your name is Tufekci and you’re working with 20/20 hindsight.

    But I don’t think the vaccinations are a problem. In the “worst case” the vaccinations have to be adjusted every year, similar to influenza. Sahin from Biontech has already said that this is very easy for him, he would just translate the modified spike protein back into mRNA. The vaccine would be ready immediately.

    The big question is once again whether the regulatory authorities would accept this new method or whether Sahin would have to conduct studies from scratch again. Unfortunately, you never know with these guys.

    As a Johns Hopkins epidemiologist said in early March, this coronavirus has been dominant and has been in Darwinian competition with other viruses that cause influenza since fall of 2019.

    This sounds like another made up statement by the Toddmeister. Influenza in 2020 was quite strong in Germany until March 2020. The collapse occurred very precisely with the first lockdown. The same can be observed in the second lockdown: influenza never came back and has in fact hit new record lows. The graphs are impressive.


    How influenza and Covid-19 act together seems to be mostly guesswork. There is no reason why one cannot contract both diseases at the same time though, this was in fact the big concern until at least fall/winter 2020.

    One can postulate a thesis of “viral interference” as well, where one virus competitively suppresses the replication of the other virus somehow, but this is contradicted by the fact that influenza has collapsed worldwide, especially in regions where Covid-19 cases tend towards 0.

  19. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    3. February 2021 at 12:04

    @Christian List:

    I do think mask wearing going forward is now normalized, as it was in parts of Asia before this. There it was often for pollution reasons, but now that we will have spent over a year wearing masks everywhere, I think many will continue to do so now that they won’t be looked at funny.

    Especially if you are older or at risk, what’s the downside? You will catch fewer colds and flus, even if Covid goes away (which it won’t, as others have mentioned it will be one of the endemic bugs we deal with every winter). In addition, soe of the measures businesses have taken like putting up glass or plastic shields and so on will continue, I think we will have less viral diseases overall going forward because of this pandemic.

  20. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    3. February 2021 at 14:14

    I do think mask wearing going forward is now normalized, as it was in parts of Asia before this.


    I sure hope so, but I don’t dare make any predictions like that. Tendentially, I would say that it will return to the way it was before relatively quickly.

    You may still see isolated masks, and you’re right, at least we won’t get picked on anymore because of wearing a mask.

    But I also assume that it will be abandoned by most quite quickly again. There will be a group effect. The indication for this, in my view, is that there was this extreme resistance from quite large parts of the population against masks, and there still is in some cases, just think of the Toddmeister.

    So my wild guess would be, unfortunately, that it will be (almost) the same as before, within only about one year. One fall/winter the people might still hold out and then they mostly give up masks again. That’s my wild guess, so I did make a prediction after all.

    At least, during the next pandemic it won’t take months and years until FFP masks are finally produced and worn. It will take hours and days. I think that’s how progress works in this area. In small steps.

    And then comes a really deadly virus, very contagious, against which only full-body suits and gas masks help. Game over. =)

  21. Gravatar of TAFKAA TAFKAA
    3. February 2021 at 17:40

    Todd, I have to say that upon further reflection upon your behavior I no longer feel outrage at your dishonesty but instead mainly sadness and compassion that you are in this situation. I hope you get the help that you need.

    That being said that doesn’t change anything about the stupidity of your continued undertaking and methods.

    The latest instance (though you’ve repeated this a million times without evidence): Calling “lockdowns” “pointless” which doesn’t even make sense. It’s absolutely possible to argue that they are not cost effective (and of course they were initially meant to be replaced by a test/trace/isolate system which never happened), but both data and basic intuition show that they are effective. It’s hard for a virus to spread when people do not interact.

    Of course the word “lockdown” now means anything from the Wuhan style complete lockdown to “bars & restaurants are closed” which makes it easy to draw incorrect conclusion based on messy data.

  22. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    4. February 2021 at 06:32

    @ Scott


  23. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    4. February 2021 at 06:35

    @ Scott

    Agreed. Re: production.

  24. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    4. February 2021 at 06:57

    @Todd Kreiger

    The Hanson paragraph is interesting. I infer he and Kling believe our reaction was wrong in some way. Impossible to demonstrate, one way or the other. But is certainly accurate in description. We know economically it was a disaster. What about deaths? Don’t know. But, we know CDC believes excess deaths in part were not directly related to Covid. I think, IF that is true, it is obvious that deaths attributed to Covid are overstated. It must be true—-almost (Yes, “almost”) by definition. Certainly highly probable. Read about “section 2” in death certificates.

    So, what does that mean if the above is true? Trump’s warning about the cure being worse than the disease was a reasonable warning. As it means our policies increased deaths.

    But we do not know-Maybe the “4 million” deaths crowd was right if we did nothing.

    So why did the elites suddenly decide that now was the time to change how we count, and change policies, and why did the experts cave?

    What was unique? What was perceived as horrible and unprecedented? I do not think,it was explicitly,conspiratorial. But I do believe confirmation bias was at work —-and who knows—maybe some conspiracy too.

  25. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    4. February 2021 at 07:24

    @Christian List:

    Always the pessimist 🙂

    Here’s an interesting take from 538:


  26. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    4. February 2021 at 10:51

    Michael Rulle, You said:

    “But is certainly accurate in description. We know economically it was a disaster.”

    You mean in Sweden, where GDP fell just as sharply as in all the other Nordic countries?

    Please be more specific.

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