Coronavirus 2020


Ask Leo the Doctor he’ll sort it.


Fruit of the Loom? Sewing machine sweat shops? If Paddy won’t pick fruit why will he sit at a machine like this.

Then you have the raw materials to consider.


We make masks in limerick, where are they going ?


The manufacturing side of Ireland fashion industry mostly wound down in Ireland a long time ago, there was capacity even in Dublin in the 70’s and 80’s to produce goods.

That €200 million sent to China for Mickey Mouse supplies (no refund), of which if even a portion of that amount or matching funding could do wonders to begin to rebalance Irelands loss of manufacturing capacity, in key areas of national security by playing catch up, instead of rewarding the communists regime perps for the crime, we could have begun to get shit in shape.

All is not lost - Up North, O’Neills have some capacity to make PPE - I wonder has GOV.IE sourced anything form O’Neills?

THE ‘CHOICE OF Champions’ slogan that was surely dreamed up by someone in O’Neills marketing team has taken on an added layer of meaning today as the sportswear company has begun manufacturing scrubs for healthcare workers.

The Co Tyrone based company temporarily laid off hundreds of staff in recent weeks, as the Covid-19 pandemic eliminated its order book.

In the US the Defense Protection Act gives Trump control of whatever is needed, and from what I gather, it can be used to securing manufacturing capacity and re-opening or keep plants open - US is using WAR powers basically. Note the keyword that keeps cropping up, begins with a “W”.

Maybe the “Mike Baldwins” of this world are not so bad after all.


Leo in name but not in nature, when not photo op’ing, is answering the phone.


Directly to the hospital, face shields I believe. Just because we can make them like this doesn’t mean we will preserve the ability when the dust settles, also long term the economics haven’t been examined.


It might fit into a CE scheme if the quality could be maintained and initial CAPEX found.

Raw materials though, we don’t make plastic and it’s a much dirtier industry.


Yes point taken. On that note. Quinn do plastics in Spain if I am not mistaken. The right kind I have no idea But might be pRt of a usual supply chain - surely all leads and links must be pursued. Surely.


Some heavy industry will have to come back from China. Motors for medical devices as an example, base commodities can be stockpiled like copper. Winding a motor is not done here I believe, southern Germany does it but they were one of the first out of the traps banning exports within the EU of PPE. French PM was making noise about domestic manufacture of vital equipment, damn sure he meant within France, not the EU.


“NEW NORMAL” announced by Varadkar.

“People want to know when things are going to go back to the new normal, and I can assure them that a plan is being developed to ease the lockdown, a roadmap to reopen Ireland, a roadmap to what will be a new normal,” he said.

I guess it depends on what he means by “new”… :whistle:

No real timeline in that reporting other than an indication of possible intervals, "…lifting Ireland’s lockdown restrictions will depend on five specific areas, and will be announced every two to four weeks."

Wakey wakey.


It’s astonishing that public and private finances aren’t the sixth criteria, like the ability to pay for stuff by State and individuals

I think Varadkar is okish. Loves his publicity. But Simon Harris really belongs in jail.


Dude… no indication of rolling back the unconstitutional legislation and 2/4 week intervals to tweak this restriction here and that restriction there takes them right to winter and (phase 2) wave 2, you will be on your knees begging’ for Harris Handouts and Leo Lolly to put a turkey on the table.


I think our finance minister shares some blame here, failing to call out the impact of the excess spending, impact to future capital infrastructure programmes, national debt turning into a (an even bigger) tower of Jenga. Vat at 27% by year end? Troika back in town next year? Sorry, I forgot, we have a new troika already, they’re called the NPHET but they make you wreck your finances instead of fixing them.


Below is a note from Nassim Taleb (of Black Swan fame), Joseph Norman and Yaneer Bar-Yam from January of this year.

My take on it is, in situations like this, better to panic than not, on the basis of long-term survival of the species.

The Swedish approach might work out but not necessarily for the right reasons. For example, what if the virus infections cause serious issues in the long term, on subsequent re-infections, or letting it run rampant causes it to mutate more dangerously etc. etc. There are still many unknowns and conflicting information on this.

Cite as:

Joseph Norman, Yaneer Bar-Yam, and Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Systemic risk of pandemic via novel pathogens – Coronavirus: A note, New England Complex Systems Institute (January 26, 2020).

Download PDF

Traduccion Italiana*

(*courtesy of Simone Butera and Luca Dellanna)

The novel coronavirus emerging out of Wuhan, China has been identified as a deadly strain that is also highly contagious. The response by China to date has included travel restrictions on tens of millions across several major cities in an effort to slow its spread. Despite this, positively identified cases have already been detected in many countries spanning the globe and there are doubts such containment would be effective. This note outlines some principles to bear in relation to such a process.

Clearly, we are dealing with an extreme fat-tailed process owing to an increased connectivity, which increases the spreading in a nonlinear way [1], [2]. Fat tailed processes have special attributes, making conventional risk-management approaches inadequate.

General Precautionary Principle

The general (non-naive) precautionary principle [3] delineates conditions where actions must be taken to reduce risk of ruin, and traditional cost-benefit analyses must not be used. These are ruin problems where, over time, exposure to tail events leads to a certain eventual extinction. While there is a very high probability for humanity surviving a single such event, over time, there is eventually zero probability of surviving repeated exposures to such events. While repeated risks can be taken by individuals with a limited life expectancy, ruin exposures must never be taken at the systemic and collective level. In technical terms, the precautionary principle applies when traditional statistical averages are invalid because risks are not ergodic.

Naive Empiricism

Next we address the problem of naive empiricism in discussions related to this problem.

Spreading rate: Historically based estimates of spreading rates for pandemics in general, and for the current one in particular, underestimate the rate of spread because of the rapid increases in transportation connectivity over recent years. This means that expectations of the extent of harm are underestimates both because events are inherently fat tailed, and because the tail is becoming fatter as connectivity increases.

Global connectivity is at an all-time high, with China one of the most globally connected societies. Fundamentally, viral contagion events depend on the interaction of agents in physical space, and with the forward-looking uncertainty that novel outbreaks necessarily carry, reducing connectivity temporarily to slow flows of potentially contagious individuals is the only approach that is robust against misestimations in the properties of a virus or other pathogen.

Reproductive ratio: Estimates of the virus’s reproductive ratio R0—the number of cases one case generates on average over the course of its infectious period in an otherwise uninfected population—are biased downwards. This property comes from fat-tailedness [4] due to individual ‘superspreader’ events. Simply, R0 is estimated from an average which takes longer to converge as it is itself a fat-tailed variable.

Mortality rate: Mortality and morbidity rates are also downward biased, due to the lag between identified cases, deaths and reporting of those deaths.

Increasingly Fatal Rapidly Spreading Emergent Pathogens: With increasing transportation we are close to a transition to conditions in which extinction becomes certain both because of rapid spread and because of the selective dominance of increasingly worse pathogens. [5]

Asymmetric Uncertainty: Properties of the virus that are uncertain will have substantial impact on whether policies implemented are effective. For instance, whether contagious asymptomatic carriers exist. These uncertainties make it unclear whether measures such as temperature screening at major ports will have the desired impact. Practically all the uncertainty tends to make the problem potentially worse, not better, as these processes are convex to uncertainty.

Fatalism and inaction: Perhaps due to these challenges, a common public health response is fatalistic, accepting what will happen because of a belief that nothing can be done. This response is incorrect as the leverage of correctly selected extraordinary interventions can be very high.

Conclusion: Standard individual-scale policy approaches such as isolation, contact tracing and monitoring are rapidly (computationally) overwhelmed in the face of mass infection, and thus also cannot be relied upon to stop a pandemic. Multiscale population approaches including drastically pruning contact networks using collective boundaries and social behavior change, and community self-monitoring, are essential.

Together, these observations lead to the necessity of a precautionary approach to current and potential pandemic outbreaks that must include constraining mobility patterns in the early stages of an outbreak, especially when little is known about the true parameters of the pathogen.

It will cost something to reduce mobility in the short term, but to fail do so will eventually cost everything—if not from this event, then one in the future. Outbreaks are inevitable, but an appropriately precautionary response can mitigate systemic risk to the globe at large. But policy- and decision-makers must act swiftly and avoid the fallacy that to have an appropriate respect for uncertainty in the face of possible irreversible catastrophe amounts to “paranoia,” or the converse a belief that nothing can be done.


  1. Y. Bar-Yam, “Dynamics of complex systems,” 1997.
  2. —, “Transition to extinction: Pandemics in a connected world,” 2016.
  3. N.N. Taleb, R. Read, R. Douady, J. Norman, and Y. Bar-Yam, “The precautionary principle (with application to the genetic modification of organisms),” arX iv preprint arXiv:1410.5787 , 2014.
  4. N.N. Taleb, The Statistical Consequences of Fat Tails . STEM Academic Press, 2020.
  5. E.M. Rauch and Y. Bar-Yam, “Long-range interactions and evolutionary stability in a predator-prey system,” Physical Review E , vol. 73, no. 2, p. 020903, 2006.


Some conflicting evidence on its potential use also


Excellent post. That analysis is on the ball.

I’d extend the ‘Naive Empiricism’ discussion, too. Everyone cites “science” in their arguments about this. Usually what they are subconsciously drawing on is the fact of the ascendancy of physics as a science, and are looking for some of that scientific gloss to validate their claims.

But think of physicists measuring say the Boltzmann constant. Their measurement accuracy is better than one part in a million. Then, another physics team come along, they measure the same thing, they get the exact same result and their accuracy is better than one part in a million too (that’s termed reproducibility). Measurement accuracy and reproducibility is basically what it’s all about.

Compare and contrast. A medical team come along and try to measure R0. What’s their accuracy. Can they make their analytical activities reproducible? Not by a long shot. We need to understand the difference.

It seems to me that many people look to science these days as in former years they looked to religion. Now no doubt it is critical the medical professionals and researchers sustain a systematic and disciplined effort to understand the virus, that they improve upon the existing stock of facts and knowledge. But they are not gods destined to be the saviour of mankind.

We therefore need to get our heads around that and act to save ourselves, using our intelligence, not just wait around for let us call it “divine” intervention. Because there are things that can be done, unusual, unpopular, difficult things, no doubt. The question is though, will we be able to do it, or will the necessary collective will be suffocated by the usual naysayers, the cranks and bunglers, etc.


My nearest park is just under 2Km away.


Good argument. Clinical sciences are not in the same category as experimental physics. I have had this discussion with colleagues several times. Clinical results are prone to statistical manipulation. Negative results can be omitted. Metastudies do not include attempts to reproduce experiments.

Ben Goldacre wrote an excellent column for the Guardian about the bad habits of the clinical sciences many years ago. Check it out and read his books ‘Bad Science’ and ‘More Bad Science’.

Pharmaceutical companies can behave dismally. Most important, they still won’t publish all the results of all the clinical trials conducted on humans. This is indefensible, and because we tolerate it, we don’t know the true effect sizes of the medicines that we give. This absurd situation mocks the whole of medicine: we need legislation to fix it, and popular movements to drive that. I’ll join yours.

Journalists can mislead the public about the answers of evidence-based medicine, which is bad. But they also mislead us on the methods and techniques. We live in a new era of doctors and patients – at our best – making decisions together. For that collaboration to work, everyone needs to understand how we know if something is good for us, or bad for us. The basics of evidence-based medicine, of trials, meta-analyses, cohort studies and the like should be taught in schools and waiting rooms. It’s interesting, but it’s also life and death: people care about it.

Politicians misuse evidence, and distort it to shameful degrees. But more than that, there are endless cases where we could do randomised trials on policies – old and new – to find out if they achieve the outcomes they’re aiming for. There is no honourable excuse for failing to use the fairest tests we can design.


There is no magical formula that says if you go 2.1 km youll get covid. I cant say i have stuck to anything like 20 km. There are others in fear of going 2m outside of their home…


The rule is in place to prevent new clusters being created.