There has been some buzz recently about the new malaria vaccine. And now Marginal Revolution has pushed a provocative take.
Is this true?
I'm not great at thinking clearly during the middle of the day, but I reckon we could kind of whip up a tweetstorm about this. So I am asking you, the more careful thinkers of EA, would this be good? Do we actually want decision makers to consider this.
Eg is the following true?
Hill is correct: the case for urgency is strong. More than a thousand children are dying daily and the Serum Institute already has 20 million doses on ice and is capable of producing 100 million doses a year. Why not treat this as an emergency?! Implicitly, however, people think that the case for urgency in Africa is weak because “what will another few months matter?” The benefits of vaccination in Africa are treated as small because they are measured relative to the total deaths that have already occurred. In contrast, vaccination for say COVID in the developed world (Town B) ended the emergency and restored normality thus saving a large percent of the deaths that might have occurred. But the percentages are irrelevant. This is a base rate fallacy, albeit the opposite of the one usually considered. Lives are lives, irrespective of the historical context.
Some things I could tweet:
- Western Governments probably cannot solve the Israel-Palestine crisis, but if we worked together we could solve malaria. Let's not delay a couple of months.
- Malaria is an emergency every day. 1000s die for every day we delay rapid rollout of the vaccine. This is a covid-level crisis. We rose to that occasion and we can here too
I'm not saying I'm gonna tweet these things, I don't know if they are true and I am too frazzled to check, but I could and I'd appreciate your opinion.
- It is important not to say inaccurate things.
- Message discipline matters. If we decided this was true and all talked about it there is a small chance we could meme it into the discourse (1-5)%
- When there are opportunities to align on stuff like this it's good to take them. Tabarrok is going out on a limb. I think he's probably right. Let's back him up