BEWARE: This is not a (truly new) post. It’s just a remainder with and ad.
A few days ago a very influencial instution, the investment firm Sequoia, published a note titled “Coronavirus: The Black Swan of 2020”. I understand the temptation, the attractiveness, the coolness of the concept, but let me recall that:
A Black Swan, as defined by Mr. Taleb, the one who coined the term, is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight.
Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease, and so the R&D Blueprint explicitly seeks to enable cross-cutting R&D preparedness that is also relevant for an unknown “Disease X” as far as possible.”
Its anticipated traits match very well those of current infection:
- efficient human to human transmissibility,
- an appreciable case fatality rate,
- the absence of an effective or widely available medical countermeasure,
an immunologically naïve population,
- virulence factors enabling immune system evasion, and
respiratory mode of spread.
- Additionally, the ability to transmit during incubation periods and/or the occurrence of mild illnesses would further augment spread.
Some nations were better prepared than others to face the challenge:
in fact, even the author of this blog, a not particularly imaginative guy, has had more than two years to think and write about the potencial consequences (and planned uses) of a pandemics. (Yes, this is dirty publicity. How could I avoid it!) But the key question is how/if we will evolve into a higher level of collective intelligence… just to deal better with i.e. this sort of threat.