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Robin Hanson on Variolation as a Response to COVID-19

Copyright © 2024 by Ari Armstrong
This episode originally was published on April 24, 2020, and reposted here on May 7, 2024.

Self in Society Podcast #
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Economist and iconoclast Robin Hanson suggests that variolation—controlled, intentional infection of the virus that causes COVID-19—could be an important "Plan B" if containment fails in the long-term and eventual herd immunity seems likely. Note that this involves a controlled test first, doctor supervision, and careful screening.

Hanson wrote an April 6 article on the topic (see his web page for additional entries on the topic). I also want to draw readers' attention to a first and second article by Daniel Tillett. His idea is to find a naturally less-harmful strain of the coronavirus for use in inoculation, which could radically reduce risks. See also my article, "Why not consider controlled, intentional infection?" For more discussion of this topic (and more) see my "COVID-19 Resources" page.

April 7, 2022 Update: This podcast episode originally was published on April 25, 2020. Obviously a lot has changed since then! We got well-tested vaccines for Covid-19 much faster than almost anyone originally anticipated.

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