Discover more from Vinay Prasad's Observations and Thoughts
Things the CDC does not know
And how this causes policy turmoil
There are many things the CDC does not actually know. They did not run the appropriate studies, so they do not have any idea. Let me start with one I have made before, and then move to some new points.
Does a universal cloth mask flight mandate (with exemptions for soda and pretzels and entire meals in first class) slow the spread of sars cov 2? (CDC doesn’t know)
How many people after vaccination (without natural infection) will eventually get breakthrough (the answer will exceed 90%), but is it 93, 95, or 97%? CDC does not know
And now some key points…
3. When is the best moment to get breakthrough for a healthy person? It's easy to say as late as possible, but it may be better to get it before the vaccine effectiveness wanes greatly. Truth is no one knows. If it is better to get it before effectiveness wanes, then advising healthy people to wear n95s is bad advice.
4 Does a healthy person benefit from being told to wear an n95? Of course if worn perfectly an n95 works. But policy makers are in the advice business. Does the advice lead to use that on balance works? This is akin to a doctor giving diet advice. Of course if you eat nothing you lose weight. But does advising someone to eat less work?
5 Do boosters further lower hospitalizations among the college kids being forced to get them to stay in school? A simple RCT could suffice, but we never made Pfizer do one.
These are just a few things where we could collect data or run trials. The way to study to the breakthrough question is to randomize willing people to different advice on when to lower their guard post vax, and measure severe outcomes.
Yet in all these cases science has and continues to fail and we don't know for sure.