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a check on vaccine. today, tom and rp discuss the current state of covid-19; as states begin to reopen at different rates, discrepancies in the severity of the pandemic are more and more evident. they cover sweden’s failed “herd immunity” experiment, the speed of the vaccine’s development, and how likely it is for americans to want a vaccine in the first place. the fourth of july has passed, and after celebrations occurred across america, tom and rp ask how seriously many americans are taking the pandemic.
tom scott is chairman & co-founder of the nantucket project. rp eddy was the architect of the Clinton administration’s pandemic response framework and the United Nations response to the global AIDS epidemic & is CEO of global intelligence firm Ergo.
rp is co-author of the best-selling award-winning book Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes with Richard A. Clarke, Former National Security Council counterterrorism adviser.
rp daily a check on vaccine.mp3
[00:00:17] How are you doing? Good to see you. Welcome back.
[00:00:20] Good. I’m Sago’s fourth. I say excited. Get back in the car.
[00:00:25] Did you what do you do for the fourth?
[00:00:28] We we were in Courtland, Idaho, and we sat on a balcony and watched illegal fireworks all around the lake, which is a different other than one place we know where everyone watches the town fireworks, everyone in town decide to have their own fireworks. So it’s kind of fun, but it didn’t end till about 1:00 the morning.
[00:00:49] Wow, how about you?
[00:00:53] I was home and I was asleep pretty early. My children went out and.
[00:01:02] You know, normally. Well, it was interesting because I can see across the board the Long Island Sound here and you can see a lot of fireworks from towns up and down. And I wasn’t sure what would happen this year. I was at my workout yesterday and the guy had come in. He’s a very friendly guy, wanted to join the class. And he said I said, well, where do you live? And he said, I live in Bayside, Queens. So we’ll have. Why’d you come here? He goes, because we can’t work out in New York, in the gyms. So I wasn’t sure because you know, where we live, you know, we live right near the border, not far from New Jersey, right next to New York. We’re in Connecticut. Connecticut gyms are open. I still do it outside. He came up for that. It turns out Long Island, I guess you could have all the fireworks displays and everything.
[00:01:50] And so I ended up just watching that. But I mentioned some of that stuff because. I don’t know exactly how this works. OK? And I’m going to I’m going to give you a little bit of a.
[00:02:04] Preamble here, which is that I’ve been like reading far afield on this topic the last few days, which is to say I’ve been reading ActiveX things and I’ve listened a little bit to Bobby Kennedy and others.
[00:02:19] I’ve also read some interesting things about vaccines. I want to talk to you about that quickly.
[00:02:28] And by the way, the reason I do this for me is that I know I don’t know. Right. So what do I do? I tend to follow the crowd, which is what we all do to a certain extent, whether we know it or not. There’s no way I know enough about vaccines to understand it for myself more often than not. I take what I hear from you, Arpey. And by and large, for example, I hear that Sweden has been a failure. But there’s others who would say the opposite, that Sweden has actually been a success, which in today’s world, I know this stuff gets really complicated because we hear it from all sides. This is all in the context of what I was describing is why I can and can’t see fireworks, because the rules are different from state to state. We live right on a border. So it’s interesting that different states are different places.
[00:03:11] But our state Arpey both and I live in Connecticut. And yesterday or maybe it was today. Yeah. I mean, yesterday we had zero deaths in the state of Connecticut. Yeah. And we were a hotspot. New cases, which is really low.
[00:03:30] Now, here’s a trick up to this, which is my observation of the general behaviors of the people who live around where we live is that it’s relatively it’s mixed. Let’s put it that way. That way. And very often I see what I would observe as seemingly irresponsible behavior feasibly covered.
[00:03:51] And we are actually in good shape as that because we got our number way down. What is it? What is it that I’m seeing that that creates all that? And we we don’t have to get into the conversation about some of the anti VAX stuff that I read if you don’t want to. But I would like to talk about some new news on vaccinations, which I sent you an e-mail last night, and I can share some of that when we want to talk about.
[00:04:14] Can I respond to some stuff you just said? Yeah. So first on Sweden, if you want to find someone and completely reveal them for just being wrong, for whatever reason, they’re wrong and find someone who thinks the Sweden experiment worked because it was a total failure and it cost thousands of lives that needed to be called needn’t be dead. That’s inarguable. You could argue that they’re faster towards herd immunity, but that’s wrong. So even Sweden acknowledges they made a mistake. It’s too bad they gambled with lives. They at least did it thoughtfully. They at least understood that. Here’s what the virus is. It’s real. It’s not a hoax. We have to address it. They just addressed it incorrectly. For those of you who haven’t followed, we’ve we’ve had a couple of shows on Sweden. They decided, look, we trust the people enough just to socially distance and we’re going to. And we don’t want to hurt our economy. So we’re going to keep everything open economically and help people help people wash your hands and social distance and and we’ll try to protect the elderly. They didn’t protect the elderly. They have had massive deaths among their elderly population and their economy has dropped just as much as their neighboring equivalent economies like Denmark. Even though businesses were open. How can that be? Here’s the big lesson. The virus is what destroys your economy. People being sick, people being afraid, people being in hospitals, people not going on and shopping. That’s what destroys your economy, not just the shutdowns. The shutdowns help stop the virus in Sweden. Prove that to us clearly. Here’s a little factoid. In Sweden, the elderly population, not the ones in elder care facilities with people over 55. Even though they were entirely allowed to go out and shop like everyone else in Sweden was, their consumption went down faster than anyone else’s. Why? Because they were afraid of the virus. They reasonably decided not to go out and shop. The economy in Sweden has dropped just as much as anyone else’s. And they’ve taken 10 times a death per capita of their neighboring states, a total failure. Quickly on reading other issues and making up our own minds. You nailed it, Tom, right. Like we’ve talked a lot about this, it’s something that one of the greatest lessons I ever learned was we don’t learn lessons. We don’t make up our own minds. You we we follow the leader. It’s it’s 80 percent of our brain wiring comes from herd animals. We follow the leader. So you have to read your own stuff. You have. But you have to look at it with a critical mind and you have to know that people are great dissemblers and there’s a lot of great false information out there. And and so anti vax all of a sudden it gets extremely complicated, like deeply, deeply complicated. Like maybe you need a masters to understand some of the science or have done this for decades to really or many years to really understand a lot of what you’re reading. If you don’t have that, you can easily be fooled or you can easily get it wrong. So eventually, for very complex topics, there’s a simple rule of thumb that I think we have to follow, which is find a group of trusted experts who are degreed, credentialed are the ones that we pay to trust. We paid a war and we paid I listened to and listened to them. So there’s things in your life where you have to just give some of the knowledge over to others. Not everything. Not much. And you should do as much reading as you can. And as soon as you get there, you know, take back take back the reins of the leadership of yourself. But don’t be afraid to trust, you know, every person at CDC, Public Health Service and across the world when it comes to vaccines versus a very small number of splinter activists who whose who rely on papers that were all discredited.
[00:07:54] But it’s a bit of a complexity. So I’m saying on one hand, well, for very complex things, you’ve got to lead yourself. But you’ve also got to understand there’s certain groups of experts that are just worth trusting until you get up to that level of expertize to make your own decision. And then finally, Connecticut, Ned Lamont, the governor, period, he nailed it. He’s a friend of mine. So I I’m biased. But he did a great job and he inter instituted mask wearing early. That’s one of the reasons Connecticut got it right. You’ve got a lot of great testing. He got a lot of great help from Yale. He took decisive leadership actions inside his leadership team. He fired a top official he didn’t think was the right person, but other person. Then he took it super seriously. And so we hope from our leaders. And he did it. He did it right. He also believes he had a week to learn from New York and New York, had two weeks to learn from Italy. So he took that time to learn to make the right decisions. I don’t think he had a week ahead of New York. He thinks that. I think we got hit right about the same time. We’re a commuter commuter county, at least in Fairfield. But he took it seriously. Now, remember, if New York had two weeks before Italy and then we had a week after New York, you know, just a reminder that America had about a month before China, after China. So we all America had a lot of warnings ahead of other states, other countries. Ned was smart enough to figure out how to make that work for us. And let’s hope we see a lot of adherence to mass growing and social distancing so that we keep the numbers down.
[00:09:20] But it’s awesome. No one died yesterday in Connecticut from the disease. Yeah.
[00:09:25] So Arpey, I know we both have limited time today. I want to talk a little bit about vaccines.
[00:09:33] I sent you this e-mail last night, I don’t know if you got a chance to see it, but essentially there’s an outline here.
[00:09:42] And this comes from Morgan Stanley research. And they talk about Maidana, Pfizer, AstraZeneca.
[00:09:51] They’ll all start phase three trials before the end of the summer. And it says here that which is very interesting, preelection data is possible. But the base case is that by mid-November there will be available data and then it says early your data increases our economists convictions that this will be a V shaped recovery, which is interesting.
[00:10:18] And then finally, it says we see limited election impact.
[00:10:25] I find that hard to believe. I find it hard to believe that if information is on the horizon, good information is on the horizon as you lead into the election around a vaccine that it would stay out of the picture.
[00:10:37] It doesn’t. That doesn’t make sense to me. Anyway, now I’m reading this as if it’s news and it may not be news at all. But just curious how you react to it.
[00:10:50] So it’s early. Let’s focus on the vaccine in the election. Let’s start with. Again, there’s 126 groups trying to find vaccines, we’re getting down to about seven and eight that are making real success, having little success. First little footnote, we should talk about more at one point, we don’t want to rush into production of vaccine, that’s not as effective as possible. This is a big point. Sixty six percent. Sixty one third of Americans say they won’t use a Corona vaccine. One third, according to a CNN poll. We don’t get to herd immunity until 70 percent of the population is seropositive. Point three zero positivity doesn’t confer immunity, meaning having the vacs, having been exposed to the disease doesn’t make you immune. Probably for more than a year and a half. We don’t know the science on that yet, but that’s possible. Say it again. If you’ve been exposed and you’ve recovered, it’s more complicated than this, but it’s quite possible that your conferred immunity, it’s called conferred immunity from being sick and now being recovered will not last two years, maybe, what, last year and a half. It’s also possible that the degree to which you were sick has some impact on the degree to how long you’ll be immune because you will create more antibodies. There’s a lot more science involved there. Yes, there’s a TSA regulated response possible as well. So quickly, the math, if a third of the country won’t take the take the medicine, take a vaccine, if we get one, if the vaccines are what’s called a hundred percent effective, which it won’t be, but let’s say it is. You’re at 66 percent and then you have how many people already seropositive? Maybe it’s five across the country, maybe 10. We maybe get to that 70 percent number where we have herd immunity, which means it’s basically safe to go outside. If we have one percent vaccine, an effective vaccine, if we have anything below 90 percent effective vaccine, you see how the math works. All right. So what we have that up is. That potentially will have the vaccine, how effective the vaccine is, the percentage of people who also are seropositive, who have been exposed and now have conferred immunity. Does that equal 70 percent right now? Probably not. It’s a big issue unless we have a almost perfectly effective vaccine. So talk about that later. Elections and vaccine, I think we can look at the way the president handled hydroxyl chloroquine, and it’s to understand how he’s going to think about the vaccines in the election. He got way ahead of the science touting in medicine thinking and by the way, touting it well beyond even what every scientist said. Even the optimistic scientists said hydroxy chloroquine can help in certain stage of the disease. He came out and said, we found a basically cure all. Not only was he wrong, optimistic scientists were wrong. Hydroxyl chloroquine basically does not help. But we saw for one of the first times ever, maybe the first time ever, a president standing at the press room in the White House, the West Wing screaming and yelling about medicine. And he was wrong. And people may have died from that. Unfortunately, believing it was right. It certainly created a huge problem around the world in the production of Hydroxyl Corkman people needed for other things that groups couldn’t get it. How will he act with a vaccine right now in all polling? He’s losing a vaccine would be transformative. The reason that Morgan Stanley, where we are reading leasers a V shaped recovery is because we’ll have a vaccine until we have a vaccine. We’re going to continue to have the problems that we’ve had. As I said in the beginning, the virus is what shuts down the economy, not the shutdowns. So Tilling of vaccine, the virus will keep crushing us and slowing us down. Look, I think I would bet you anything the president will be touting vaccine successes very early as soon as he has anything to tout them on. And I would just remind you that two bodies right now that have data on vaccine production are, one, the for profit companies that are making them. Who obviously are eager. By all sorts of reasons, good and not many bad two to ensure there is is the best thing they wanted. When they know it’s the best, their stocks will go up. Their CEOs will get richer if they’re right. So they are interested in getting the best news out there. They can as fast as they can and maybe not as carefully as they should. And a president who very, very badly wants a vaccine. So those two bodies, the government, the rest the government is not commenting on vaccines are both highly biased towards a positive outcome. And the president, you know, we’ve talked a lot at Airto about an October surprise. Meaning he comes out and says, Mugabi the vaccine and people believe it if we don’t. So let’s let’s hope we do my gotta to be the best thing in the world if the vaccine tomorrow or October. I can’t say if we will or we won’t. I hope we do. But I can say with high certainty, the president will hype whatever we have. And we have to just ensure that whatever we put into production based on the math I just mentioned, is a highly effective vaccine because once we put one into production, you can’t go put another into production. So the machinery available to mass produce billions of doses of vaccine or in America’s instance, 300 million. Can’t be used twice. You can’t parallel process. You pick one vaccine and get behind one winner, you make that one. If it’s not effective enough, if the president says, I don’t care if it’s only 70 percent effective, let’s get it out there because I think I’ll win. Then we’ll be making a dire error by allocating those precious production resources to something that we probably should have waited longer for something else. And that’s a, by the way, a super hard call to make. We’ll have an impact on the election. I suspect that Morgan Stanley is looking at the Electoral College numbers, but look, it looks really bad for Trump right now. There’s a lot of water to go under, a lot of bridges between now and the election. He’s going to try every trick he can to win, as every candidate would not. So long as he does it legally and ethically, then that’s his right. So I wouldn’t count him out yet, but a vaccine would certainly help.
[00:16:59] What’s your view on leaving the WHL?
[00:17:02] Just foolish, foolish, foolish on the fragment, foolish.
[00:17:05] Now it’s just politicking like it’s a critical organization. It doesn’t really work well without us in it. They made some mistakes. They actually weren’t as profound as our own mistakes at our own CDC level or certainly in our own executive level or the level of the mistake. We made a lot of governors offices.
[00:17:23] It’s done. You know it. And.
[00:17:26] It’ll just hurt us. It’s not like it costs us real money. It’s an organization that is, by the way, look, we’re the leader of these organizations, all these multilateral organizations. We pay a quarter the bills, basically, and we get what we want. So if that organization doesn’t work, it’s probably largely our fault for neglecting it, not getting in there, not beating it up. There’s a lot of work America’s done. A lot of diplomats mean a lot of time working with multilateral organizations, getting them to get rid of waste, fraud and abuse, and getting them to respond as best we can to what America wants. Maybe not what Russia China wants Iran. There’s a lot of fighting among those other countries for how these organizations will behave. And if certain, if not a member, you have no influence. But if you don’t show up, if you don’t put good diplomats there, if you don’t take it all seriously, you don’t have influence either. But it’s it’s like quitting your own private. No club. Right. We are the boss of these things largely. And we need to be in there in reforming them. And the W8 show is a necessary, important organization for global health. It’s saved millions, millions lives. And we have to be responsible to Americans and the rest of the world to ensure that organizations properties on properly managed and doing what it’s supposed to do if it isn’t. We got to get in there and fix it, not quit it.
[00:18:43] So, Arpey, we’re going on the road. Yeah. We’re so excited for you. Yeah. So here’s the most recent poster. Let’s go. I love it.
[00:18:52] It’s so I leave a week from Friday. I mean, this is coming soon now. The first event is in Minneapolis, you see there on the 22nd of July. The last one is the night of August 2nd down in New Orleans. You know, as we’ve been building this, you know, part of the recruiting group that we recruit the people to come and basically we’re having conversations in all these towns. And really the story’s already begun because you you start getting feedback right away on many things. You know, by and large, by the way, the conversations are great. You know, we’re talking to people who are college professors or, you know, hardware store owners to head of the NAACP from Dubuque, Iowa. I mean, like all these interesting and different people. And as I say, the story begins now because the questions they ask, the concerns they bring, their willingness to participate is very high, by the way. So we’ll we’ll do these conversations in every place. Normally, we put on a show. In this case, it’s not a show. It is literally a conversation. But as you might guess, what often comes up is covered. I’ve been doing I do a regular set of meetings, actually daily. I do a meetings with a group of about 25 people that we do them outdoors. I have another part of a gym where I workout outdoors. I have a lot of confidence in our ability to stay safe as a team, and I have a lot of ability. Excuse me, I have a lot of confidence in our ability to create a safe environment when people come on this trip. To me, the most risky part of this trip for my team. Most of us are driving out and back. So we go from here, northern tip of Mississippi, down to the south tip of the Mississippi and back. I think the airplanes, a couple of people would rather fly and we if we made it their option.
[00:20:46] Does that make sense? Yeah, that makes sense to me. You know, we’re if you look at this backdrop, I’m in Montana right now. You may recall we put three boys in a suburban Kelli and I and drove Kennicott to Idaho, stopped and saw friends safely on the way. Now we’re going to fly back and have someone drive the truck back. The Suburban. We decided that we didn’t think that will be safe, partly because we have a six year old hard to contain him, partly because we couldn’t get blocks of seats.
[00:21:16] And partly because just the anxiety of not knowing how exposed we were would be with us for 14 days. And we are going to go see other people and what we do in that very time. So I can have higher confidence of my exposure not being on an airplane. Now, the airlines will tell you that they have well filtered air, this and that. But you’re in a closed, confined place space next to much other people. So it’s actually a higher risk endeavor than what we’re doing. Your car rides will be high risk so long as those cars don’t have contaminate. People in your meetings outside will not be high risk. We’ll still be of risk. So, no, I think I wouldn’t do an airplane. It’s certainly easier. So the 36 hour car ride I’ve signed up for, but the first leg in yesterday, my back is all my arms and all kinked up. It would’ve been easier to sit in an airplane. But I think the stress, let alone the potential of contracting the disease. I don’t want to do it. And by the way, we can have a great time.
[00:22:15] So there’s a pond back here and I think boys out there fishing on it.
[00:22:20] OK. You tell you the. I’ve been using an analogy and I’ve got to go in a minute. It’s a little dirty, but.
[00:22:31] Flatulence. Gas. Having gas. That’s a good point. You have gas?
[00:22:39] Well, I feel it if you have gas at an outdoor gathering. Maybe one person will catch wind of it. Maybe too. Depends on how close you are to each other. If you’re in a car, the coal car, if the windows aren’t down, they’re going to they’re going to fill you in. I got three little boys. I know it. Same with a conference room. And I actually, the more I thought about it like this is as good an analogy is as I’ve heard it.
[00:23:01] Think about it because I don’t want I don’t want to start selling it as like if you’re trying to be safe with it, could even add your to to or analogy to there for the people are really are the ones and the super spreaders got hooks in America that stick with you.
[00:23:12] Right. So if it’s that if if that chorus had been outside.
[00:23:18] No, all the people he asked. I think very likely that Woolworths would have had much less far better results, right?
[00:23:24] Well, and then and then you throw in the mask factor now, mask. I don’t know how a mask does against flatulence, but if you think about being outside with a mask and just imagining just your own sort of unscientific understanding of the way air moves and molecules move, it’s a relatively safe bet to say think of it like a passing gas.
[00:23:42] Yep. I don’t think that’s such a bet that, you know what differences.
[00:23:45] It’s a gas nano molecule, but hypocenter. Right? Yeah, that’s that’s a good one.
[00:23:49] So every time we smell a little boy fart in the car with a computer. All right. I got to go. I’m sorry. I’ve got another is. I love it. We’ll be in touch again this week. Great to catch up.