This is would usually be a hidden open thread, but I’m promoting it to front page to say a couple of things:
1. Future of Humanity Institute asks me to advertise their free pandemic modeling software for hospitals, policymakers, and anyone who just wants to play around with free pandemic modeling software.
2. People seem to be confused whether my face masks post last week was coming out against or in favor of face masks. Although it’s a complicated issue, I meant for it to conclude that (modulo the importance of reserving them for health care personnel), wearing face masks is probably helpful.
3. On Friday, I stated that people should stop smoking to reduce their risk of serious lung complications of coronavirus. Although that conclusion was supported by one Chinese study and by common sense, a few people have pointed out to me that more recent studies show the opposite. This study of Chinese patients finds that smoking and vaping are not dangerous in coronavirus and may have “a protective role”, possibly due to downregulation of ACE (but note that the lead author has a history of getting funding from e-cigarette companies). This study from China finds that although never-smokers have better survival rates than current-smokers, former-smokers do worse than either, which would argue against quitting right now. And this study confirms that quitting smoking can upregulate expression of coronavirus receptor genes (though it finds that smoking does as well).
I’m pretty suspicious of this research. It’s new, lots of it isn’t yet peer reviewed, and it contradicts itself in places. The former-smokers-do-worse effect is reminiscent of the teetotalers-do-worst effect in alcohol research, which is probably because very sick people get told to stop drinking, and so teetotalers are a disproportionately sickly population. Everything is working off a few heavily-biased mortality numbers in China. And also, even if quitting smoking increases your coronavirus mortality risk it will still be very good for you on net.
Still, the most recent research does apparently show that the advice I gave you yesterday was diametrically wrong and could kill you, so I figured I had better get that out there.