All of nongiga's Comments + Replies

Biggest Biosecurity Threat? Antibiotic Resistance

Hi, I'm an EA working in a prominent antibiotics resistance lab. From my point of view, antibiotics resistance is a big issue, resistance is growing, HOWEVER, there are actually a lot of medications in the pipeline that are effective but weren't brought to market because it's not financially viable right now (that I heard in a talk by Floyd Romesberg). There are also other interesting therapies like antimicrobial peptides (explanation here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15761415 ). My lab developed an ML model that will help doctors in... (read more)

2Will Bradshaw2y
This fits with my general impression that biosecurity experts in EA (at OpenPhil, FHI, and elsewhere) don't generally consider antibiotic resistance to be a top-priority threat. Reading this question made me realise that I don't have a very detailed understanding of why that is. What you describe sounds like an important part of it.
Helping wild animals through vaccination: could this happen for coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2?

This is a very creative idea. A few of my thoughts:


1) Like you pointed out, many diseases that can be very virulent in humans (Ebola, Nipah, Coronavirus) are not so virulent in bats, so there would be many instances where a vaccination program will be very valuable for humans but have very little (and maybe even negative, due to side effects) effect on the wild animal population.

2) Diseases tend to be harmful in dense, homogeneous populations. Like people, or livestock. I don't know how much disease really impacts wild animal suffering - there could b... (read more)

2Animal_Ethics2y
Thank you! Your points are very good ones. Yes, this is true to some extent, although it's likely that even if viruses that are virulent in other animals are less so in bats, they are nevertheless, if to a minor extent, harmful for them. Maybe to them the viruses would be like a cold would be to us. So in these cases it is likely to be beneficial. It will just be much less so than in the case of other diseases we considered here, like rabies or white nose disease. In addition to these cases, these programs would benefit nonhuman animals other than bats who may be infected by them, and would also be beneficial in the other ways pointed out in the last section of the piece. Available evidence suggests is pretty widespread unfortunately. See this piece [https://www.animal-ethics.org/wild-animal-suffering-section/situation-of-animals-wild/diseases-nature/] . Yes! This is a reason why we think that promoting more research at the intersection of animal welfare science and the science of ecology is necessary. We've been funding work about this that examines different causes of death in wild animals in different countries, see here [https://www.animal-ethics.org/dr-meagan-king-is-awarded-animal-ethics-postdoctoral-grant-to-carry-out-research-on-welfare-biology-at-the-university-of-guelph/] and here [https://www.animal-ethics.org/animal-ethics-funding-project-examining-causes-of-harm-and-mortality-to-wild-animals-in-greece/] . Monitoring is also needed after the vaccination programs are implemented. You're right, and this is a very significant concern. It is true that right now, because of the urgency to come up with a vaccine for COVID-19, testing is being directly carried out in human subjects (see for instance here [http://www.rfi.fr/en/science-and-technology/20200423-human-trials-begin-in-worldwide-race-to-develop-covid-19-vaccine-coronavirus-study-france-uk-germany] , here [https://www.bbc.com/news/health-51906604?at_custom3=%40BBCWorld&at_custom1=%5Bpost+type%5
Open Thread #40

I was terrified of pursuing an EA career

For 3 years after joining EA I was still set on going to medical school. I knew I could do more but I was just terrified of switching. Even when I got an opportunity presented to me I was very torn between pursuing it or staying in my comfort zone. Now I'm having the best summer of my life in a biosecurity internship. I'm more motivated, I'm more productive, I'm going on more adventures, and I have a lot more and better connections than before.

EA was amazing in that having this network made it easier to go into an e... (read more)