When a virus is a problem trust people who're used to dealing with things viral

I've honestly had a lot better luck learning about this coronavirus from some of the people in the venture capital VC) sector I follow rather than the media. I suspect that VCs are probably at least as well equipped to discuss the sort of phenomena in question than the typical journalist who's been writing about for the last few weeks. Not only are VCs looking for investment opportunities with the possibility of (metaphorically) viral growth a lot of them are also pretty heavily involved in the biotech sector.

It's been kind of interesting to consider the latest change in media focus over the last week weeks - which originally seemed to focus frequently on racism, complaining about the diversity of those involving in addressing it, and frequently downplaying the risk relative to the flu when the flu is a much better understood phenomena than this latest virus (though influenza is definitely still gonna kill a lot of people in any given year).

Now it seems to me that over the past 24-48 hours it's been starting to flip - such that now I've been hearing more about inadequate preparation. There's also been fake news floating around about Trump having imposed drastic funding cuts on the agencies responsible for dealing with a pandemic - to quote An AP fact check column Democrats distort coronavirus readiness:

Trump’s budgets have proposed cuts to public health, only to be overruled by Congress, where there’s strong bipartisan support for agencies such as the CDC and NIH. Instead, financing has increased.

Indeed, the money that government disease detectives first tapped to fight the latest outbreak was a congressional fund created for health emergencies.

Some public health experts say a bigger concern than White House budgets is the steady erosion of a CDC grant program for state and local public health emergency preparedness — the front lines in detecting and battling new disease. But that decline was set in motion by a congressional budget measure that predates Trump.

The above is a story that makes Trump look bad, but it's also not quite the same story that I find I've been hearing. I keep hearing about the important of clear and consistent communication from people but it's not something that I think that Trump is performing much worse on than some of the loudest alternative sources - i.e. the primary opposing party and the media. The element that seems most dangerous (unless it'd get Trump to just shut up for once .. but that'll never happen!): Pence Will Control All Coronavirus Messaging From Health Officials.

Am personally guessing that if there are widespread deaths due to this virus in the US that Trump will be blamed and if there aren't then he'll get the credit (even if he hasn't really done much of anything to deserve it). That's more or less the way politics goes.

Seeing an early indication that a change in treatment strategy in Wuhan may have significantly improved survival rates1 and Israeli claims of almost having a vaccine ready due to already having passed a vaccine for a coincidentally very-similar virus through a lot of trials already. Not quite sure how either of those paths might play out ... and that'd be pretty difficult to gauge at this stage. From the average person's perspective there's not too much that can be done beyond taking precautions of the same sort you might against the flu2 ... and maybe grab a novel to read while you wait.

  1. It's difficult to overstate the low level of confidence here with regards to certain claims like this particular one... just such is what you're stuck working with as better information slowly emerges. ↩︎

  2. Note that this article seems to suggest even if it wouldn't help against this newest virus directly, getting a flu vaccine should reduce overall burden on the healthcare system and also make it easier to identify cases of this new virus. ↩︎