Time to Mitigate, Not Contain

“We have long needed a Plan B for the scenario where a big fraction of everyone gets exposed to Covid19, and for this plan I’ve explored variolation and other forms of deliberate exposure. To be ready, variolation just needs a small (~100) short (1-2mo.) trial to verify the quite likely (>75%) case that it works (cuts harm by 3-30x), but alas, while funding and volunteers can be found, med ethics panels have consistently disapproved. (Months later, they haven’t even allowed the widely praised human challenge trials for vaccines, some of which would include variolation trials.)

-Robin Hanson, “Time to Mitigate, Not Contain.” OvercomingBias.com. May 28, 2020

I’m thinking an intervention that involving volunteering to get COVID-19, when there are no effective treatments and with a fatality rate somewhere between 0.5-1% is going to be a hard sell. If herd immunity is at 60%, this means a death toll of almost 1 million in the United States, on the low end.