Saturday, November 21, 2020

What jobs have most risk of Covid?

This data is Norway but I will assume the US and other countries would be similar. The full paper is Occupational risk of COVID-19 

"The difference between the first and second wave may be due to changes in the test criteria. In the first wave, there was a shortage of test equipment, and patients, risk groups and healthcare personnel were prioritised for testing. In the second wave, close contacts and people with mild symptoms could also be tested. " so I'll use the figures from the second wave for the risk.

How many people have these jobs? The US bureau of Labour Statistics has good numbers on occupations here 

I took all these jobs and got the numbers of US workers with them and their chance of getting ill. It works out that about 10% of workers account for 30% of cases (in workers). That is still about 16 million people. But it does give a possible next group for vaccines after medical workers. I put the combined risk and numbers employed data into a spreadsheet here 


Saturday, October 24, 2020

Detecting the Sex of a Chicken Egg

 'About seven billion male chicks - not wanted for meat or eggs - are killed around the world each year, usually in shredding machines or by gas.' This is really wasteful and cruel.

There are genetic tests that can be done on eggs to sex them. But they are not widespread yet due to the expense and complicated process they require.

In 2018 it was discovered that looking at the blood vessels in human eyes can be used to detect gender. This was not something widely expected by experts in looking at retinal scans. 'gender (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) = 0.97)'.

I think it would be really interesting to make a dataset of chickens eggs, their sex when they hatch, size measurements, weight and photos of the eggs under various types of light. Possibly Infrared is the most useful kind of light.  With this it might be possible to make a classifier that can tell you if an egg is likely to be male.

Raspberry pi cameras have advanced a lot recently so making the rig to take these measurements would be much easier than it used to be. Tying these to the eggs eventual gender would at least involve some smart labelling.

Do you know anyone with the necessary chickens and interest to try make up such a dataset?

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Short Supply of Flu Vaccines


On February 21, 2020 i blogged here about how 'Ireland should make the Flu Vaccine Free for All'. I thought this because the risk of Covid was high enough to make it really worthwhile this year.  It seems that there is now not enough flu vaccine to meet demand in Ireland this year. 

I wrote to various politicians. Including current Health Minister Stephen Donnelly.

22 Feb 2020, 17:58
to Stephen.Donnelly
Dear Mr Donnelly 

Congratulations on your reelection as a TD. 

I would like you to consider it be Fianna Fáil policy for the government to offer free flu vaccines to everyone in Ireland this autumn. 

Firstly, Research from Canada says offering such free flu vaccination is cost effective[1]. Secondly, Ireland has particular issues with hospital overcrowding during flu season which makes reducing these cases very valuable to us. Thirdly, possible covid19 spread means any spare capacity we can get in our health system is particularly valuable this year[2].

Orders for doses of flu vaccines have to be made relatively soon. I understand the process of forming a government at the moment makes making such an increased ordering decision for use this Autumn more difficult.

Thank you for your attention.
   Best regards,

[1] Systematic review of the cost-effectiveness of influenza immunization programs by Eon Edward Kwokho Ting

And his office replied

Dear David,


We thank you for your correspondence, and considerate thinking.

I have raised your concerns and proposals with Stephen Donnelly.


Kind regards,


 Office of Stephen Donnelly T.D.

There could be many reasons that there is not enough flu vaccine this year. But I think this exchange shows that 'No one thought or suggested before March that we would need more flu vaccines' is not a reason.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Judging Trump's Presidency

Early 2017 I gave some metrics here that could be used to judge Trump's presidency a success on his own terms. Dues to the pandemic I do not think it is fair to judge from 2020 on. But how did he do in the previous three years?
The metrics were

1. Better healthcare. Cover Everybodycost less and have lower deducables

Didn't happen
'In 2018, 8.5 percent of people, or 27.5 million, did not have health insurance at any point during the year. The uninsured rate and number of uninsured increased from 2017 (7.9 percent or 25.6 million).The percentage of people with health insurance coverage for all or part of 2018 was 91.5 percent, lower than the rate in 2017 (92.1 percent).

2. More GDP Growth. 'If Trump can deliver an average of more than 3% over his 4 years in office I think an impartial observer would agree the economy has done well.'

Didn't happen

3. A balanced Budget.
Didn't happen
"The budget deficit increased from $779 billion in FY2018 to $984 billion FY2019, up $205 billion or 26%. The budget deficit increased from $666 billion in FY2017 to $779 billion in FY2018, an increase of $113 billion or 17.0%.[10] The 2019 deficit was an estimated 4.7% GDP, up from 3.9% GDP in 2018 and 3.5% GDP in 2017. The historical average deficit is 2.9% GDP" 
4. Infrastructure improvements are a big part of Trumps promise. These are measured here
Didn't happen
2018 US was 14th in the world in world bank LPI rank. Infrastructure score 4.05
2016 US was 10th in the world. Infrastructure score 4.15

On none of the four metrics declared in January 2017 has Trump's presidency succeeded in, in the time before the pandemic.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Ireland really should make the Flu Vaccine Free for All

I argued here on February 21st that Ireland should make the flu vaccine free for all this year. This I argued because it would reduce overcrowding, increase productivity and mitigate some impacts of covid-19.

Today the minister for health has announced that more people will get the vaccine for free this year.

Defined at risk groups of adults is described here using 76 words. That is just too complicated. Many who qualify won't get vaccinated without clear messaging.
A simple message of "The flu vaccine is free for all this year. You can reduce the risk to you and spread in the community by getting vaccinated" would increase uptake even in the most at risk groups. The cost of expanding free vaccination to all, based on the experience of Ontario, would be about 60 million euro.

Flu compared to Covid-19 is a small issue. But it is one we have a fair amount of control over. Reducing the number of people having to go to hospital is really useful at the moment and free flu vaccines for all would do that.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Give everyone LCT strips

The idea previously of LCT bracelets won't work. Arm temperatures are just not accurate enough to show fever. In some cases when you get a fever your lower limbs actually gets colder.

But that does not mean these cheap thermometers are of no benefit. There is an interesting model here from Paul Romer about how even an inaccurate test can reduce spread. Here is his simulation for a test with a 20% and 40% false negative rate results in large reductions in the spike int he number of infections.

and with 40% False Negative Rate

One such test might be the thermometer test for fever it is cheap but not very accurate. About 30% of people might not have fevers in spite of having covid-19.  It seems to be unknown how infections these asymptomatic people are.
Another paper on Wuhan says "Per person, these undocumented infections were half (52 percent) as contagious as documented infections yet were the source of two-thirds of documented infections" but undocumented does not mean asymptomatic.

There is also this interesting article on the issues with temperature checking in Asia. ‘Thermometer Guns’ on Coronavirus Front Lines Are ‘Notoriously Not Accurate’ it seems outdoor ones are pretty useless. And they need to be aimed very carefully.

All these bits of evidence combined seem to suggest that encouraging and facilitating everyone to check their temperature everyday at home might be worthwhile. LCT strips in particular are still available and are really cheap

Here is a supplier that can provide a million reusable LCT a month at a price of 3.6 cent each. There are 1.7 million dwellings in Ireland. Buying one for every dwelling in Ireland would cost 62,500 euro. 138.45 million housing units in the United States = 6 million dollars

Supplying these to households as a cheap if not very accurate test could well meet a cost benefit analysis.