Health Technology

Reddit decides to allow COVID-19 misinformation

A few anti-vaccine subreddits have popped up on Reddit over the past months. And in response, a selection of other subreddits are calling on Reddit [c] to remove these subreddits – which are often full of misinformation – from the platform.

Well, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman (spez) has responded [c], essentially with ‘no’:

Dissent is a part of Reddit and the foundation of democracy.

He does on to say:

Reddit is a place for open and authentic discussion and debate.

(This was said in a post which has the comments turned off.)

Censorship is always a very tricky subject. By and large I am dead against it on the web. I want it be open and free. However, rampant lies and the purposeful spreading of misinformation about something so vital as the COVID-19 vaccine does come rather close to needing some stronger vetting by Reddit, in my opinion.

Either way, Huffman’s rather blunt and heavy-handed statement was probably not the best way for Reddit to announce its decision to allow anti – and most likely wrong – COVID-19 vaccine viewpoints and I expect an updated statement for ‘clarity’ in a day or two.

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Symptom of COVID-19 may be loss of smell

“Almost everybody who is hospitalized has this same story,” said Dr. Marco Metra, chief of the cardiology department at the main hospital in Brescia, where 700 of 1,200 inpatients have the coronavirus. “You ask about the patient’s wife or husband. And the patient says, ‘My wife has just lost her smell and taste but otherwise she is well.’ So she is likely infected, and she is spreading it with a very mild form.” […]

Hendrik Streeck, a German virologist from the University of Bonn who went from house to house in the country’s Heinsberg district to interview coronavirus patients, has said in interviews that at least two-thirds of the more than 100 he talked to with mild disease reported experiencing loss of smell and taste lasting several days. #

A UK Health Minister Nadine Dorries who had COVID-19 tweeted about not being able to smell or taste too.

More coverage.

Health Main Money

Rishi Sunak’s 80% + Universal Basic Income

Today the UK declared the closure of cafes, pubs, restaurants, nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres. And to help the employees of the affected industries the Chancellor of the Exchequer – Rishi Sunak – announced that the government will pay 80% of their salary for the foreseeable future so that they neither lose their jobs or struggle too much financially. It’s a bold and expensive move that will cost the taxpayer hundreds of billions of pounds and take decades to pay off. But I think it’s the right move.

And after watching the press conference for these announcements I turned to my Mum and said that Rishi Sunak is the only high-level UK politician currently responding appropriately and sensibly during the coronavirus crisis. James Kirkup of the Spectator agrees:

In some ways, it’s easy and even important to keep Rishi Sunak’s performance in announcing his coronavirus job retention scheme in perspective. It should, after all, be pretty easy to be popular in politics when you are offering to spend literally limitless amounts of money protecting people from economic hardship. […]

But even taking those things into account, I still consider Sunak’s performance one of the most impressive I’ve seen from a British politician in more than 20 years in and around Westminster.

With so many governments helping out their citizens finanically at the moment universal basic income (UBI) has appeared in the news several times. I’m still unconvinced by some of the maths and theory behind UBI but I do wonder if the coronavirus crisis will be the catalyst for more UBI adoption worldwide in the same way that the catalyst for the UK’s universal health care – the NHS – was World War II.

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‘Why Britain’s Coronavirus Strategy is Literally One of the Most Insane Things in Modern History’

Did you see a small problem between the British government’s definition of herd immunity…and what it actually is? Herd immunity is — the real thing — what happens after enough members of a population have been vaccinated. It’s not…just letting an entire nation be rampaged by a lethal virus for which there’s no vaccine. […]

The human species never developed “herd immunity” to polio or smallpox or any virus, really — ever, despite millennia of death and illness and misery. Why not? Because herd immunity depends on vaccines. We vaccinate a large number of people, and then all of us are protected, because transmission rates are reduced (among other things.) Let me make the point again. The human race never developed herd immunity to a lethal virus, precisely because herd immunity is not something that emerges naturally. What happens, instead, when we let a virus simply take its course? What happened with smallpox and polio: they just rampage through populations, forever.

Read more.

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Short article over at the Specator: Why Britain Isn’t Opting for a Coronavirus Lockdown

Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Officer, explained that the aim is to try and delay the peak of the disease and then stretch it out over a longer period so the NHS is better able to deal with it. […]

Chris Witty, the Chief Medical Officer, stressed that one of the reasons the UK was not moving to more dramatic measures – for example, telling all old people to self-isolate – was that if the UK moved now, then the public would tire of that at just the wrong moment. Some people argue that people will be happy to do whatever it takes to avoid this virus. But staying home for three months is no small thing and it is not hard to believe that people would tire of this in time.

I personally believe Britain needs to have a massive ‘over-reaction’. Now. Only workers in the utilities, food (supermarkets, not restaurants) and other essential industries should be working. Everyone else needs to stay at home. We can either suffer briefly now for two weeks as a nation or drag this misery out for the rest of the year and and cause a lot more deaths. Even now, in this late hour, everyone I’ve spoken to about Coronavirus is treating it as little more than a joke or at worst just a minor inconvience. In the past 24 hours or so some high-profile names have tested positive for the virus which should hopefully aid public awareness of how dangerous this all is though.

I somewhat fortunately happen to follow a guy on Twitter who has from the start taken a very keen interest in Choronavirus and its spread. And when he said on February 22nd that “we give the chance of pandemic 54% to 75%” I started to take it very seriously. I haven’t been to the gym since and have gotten all my exercise from rural walking and cycling. Sadly I still have to work, but aside from that the only other place I go is to the supermarket. And I’ve been going as soon as they open as it’s very quiet and less hands will have likely fondled my food. And if it’s not protected by a bag I don’t eat it. No more loose fruit or vegetables.

Aside: I don’t know when the Spectator website got a redesign, but it’s both functional and stunning.