A counterfactual QALY for USD 2.60–28.94?

I'm sure there are many giving opportunities in global health that are better than the GiveWell top charities, and I'm pleased to see promising small or medium-sized projects like this being brought to the attention of EAs. 

However, I think you should try to get better estimates of QALYs gained (or DALYs averted)—especially if you're going to feature the cost-effectiveness ratio so prominently in your write-up. This should be possible by referring to the relevant literature. The current estimates don't seem all that plausible to me, e.g. an episode of "simple malaria" (by which you presumably mean there are no other complications like anaemia) tends to last a few weeks or less, so even if it could be immediately cured at the beginning, it wouldn't reach your lower estimate of 0.1 QALYs, let alone the upper of 5 QALYs. For life-threatening conditions, I don't think you should have the theoretical maximum of "save all lives" as the upper estimate, as that wouldn't happen in any context, and certainly not this one. If you must rely on your intuitive guesstimates, perhaps you should use 90% or 95% credible intervals.

Good luck with the project!


EA Forum feature suggestion thread

''Next" and "Previous" arrows/buttons at the bottom of a post, to move to the next/previous post - useful when you haven't read the forum for a while and want to catch up. This would obviously have to assume a certain ordering (e.g. chronological vs karma) and selection (e.g. all or excluding Community/Questions), which could perhaps be adjusted in Settings.

EA Forum feature suggestion thread

Level 3 headings should be supported. Unless it's changed recently, it currently jumps from Level 2 to Level 4, which makes it hard to logically format complex documents.

Market-shaping approaches to accelerate COVID-19 response: a role for option-based guarantees?

Thanks for the comments!

1. The put could cover ~90% of the cost of the accelerated production, taking into account the additional costs.

2. Sales are likely to be higher if they move more quickly: the company with the first billion vaccines is likely to sell a lot more items than the company with the second, and this could more than offset any additional costs. (The second may not sell any, even if it’s a good product, if the first can meet all needs quickly enough.)

3. Some variants outlined in the brief, such as declining payouts, can further incentivise haste.

4. I’ve nothing against academic/PPP efforts, especially if they are under existing arrangements (since they normally take ages to negotiate), and put options will not always be the best approach. But in the current situation we need as many teams on this as we can get, and options-based guarantees may help generate new ideas or get existing ones to market more quickly.

What posts do you want someone to write?

Should Covid-19 be a priority for EAs?

A scale-neglectedness-tractability assessment, or even a full cost-effectiveness analysis, of Covid as a cause area (compared to other EA causes) could be useful. I'm starting to look into this now – please let me know if it's already been done.

Coronavirus: how much is a life worth?

Suicide is a very poor indicator of the dead/neutral point, for a host of reasons.

A few small, preliminary surveys I've seen place it around 2/10, though it ranges from about 0.5 to 6 depending on whom and how you ask.

(I share your concerns in parentheses, and am doing some work along these lines - it's been sidelined in part due to covid projects.)

What posts you are planning on writing?

Hah! I was working on them before getting sidelined with covid stuff.

I can send you the drafts if you send me a PM. The content is >80% done (I've decided to add more, so the % complete has dropped) but they need reorganising into ~10 manageable posts rather than 3 massive ones.

Founders Pledge Charity Recommendation: Action for Happiness

Thanks Aidan! Hope you're feeling better now.

Most of your comments sound about right.

On retention rates: Your general methods seem to make sense, since one would expect gradual tapering off of benefits, but your inputs seem even more optimistic than I originally thought.

I'm not sure Strong Minds is a great benchmark for retention rates, partly because of the stark differences in context (rural Uganda vs UK cities), and partly because IIRC there were a number of issues with SM's study, e.g. a non-randomised allocation and evidence of social desirability bias in outcome measurement, plus of course general concerns related to the fact it was a non-peer-reviewed self-evaluation. Perhaps retention rates of effects from UK psychotherapy courses of similar duration/intensity would be more relevant? But I haven't looked at the SM study for about a year, and I haven't looked into other potential benchmarks, so perhaps yours was a sensible choice.

Also not a great benchmark in a UK context, but Haushofer and colleagues recently did a study* of Problem Management+ in Uganda that found no benefits at the end of a year (paper forthcoming), even though it showed effectiveness at the 3 month mark in a previous study in Kenya.

*Haushofer, J., Mudida, R., & Shapiro, J. (2019). The Comparative Impact of Cash Transfers and Psychotherapy on Psychological and Economic Well-being. Working Paper. Available upon request.

AMA: Elie Hassenfeld, co-founder and CEO of GiveWell

Do you think GiveWell top charities are the best of all current giving opportunities? If so, what is the next best opportunity?

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