The Disease Conundrum

For example
say there is a new disease sweeping the world.

It spreads through breathing it in from germs from infected people

It’s moderately lethal

how do you go about preventing people from catching it and how do you handle treatment for the infected


Disclaimer: I am not an epidemiologist

It spreads from breathing it in so the obvious low-effort solution given that some people are going to be dumb about not infecting other people is, like, flu mask-type-things, they’re relatively inexpensive and easy to manufacture and distribute which means that it’s easy to get high coverage with limited resources and they ?probably? affect your likelihood of catching it

From the other perspective we obviously want to discourage people from spreading it to others, it’s probably not practical to institute quarantines and expect them to be followed and imprisoning people who go places in public while sick is actively counterproductive assuming that you would prefer that your entire prison not be infected so you can’t do that, fines could plausibly work as a deterrent although possibly not well enough (and runs into the problem that people going out are disproportionately likely to be people who are trying to avoid, like, ending up homeless due to missing work, and thus less likely to be able to afford the fine)

Depending on how effective the treatment is and what exactly it requires it’s reasonably likely that we mostly don’t want infected people in hospitals due to both the risk of them infecting everyone else and the risk of them catching something else while there. unfortunately people are really bad at listening to instructions about that sort of thing but you might be able to get somewhere with ‘please only come to the hospital if you’re part of the following high-risk groups’? what specifically you’d want to do here seems like it probably depends on the specifics of the treatment

how would your approach change if it was highly infectious and lethal

Same vector of transmission?

to your knowledge yes

Disclaimer: still not an epidemiologist

At that point it becomes substantially more important to limit the chances of exposure – it being highly lethal makes it more important because the negative consequences of fucking up are more severe, and it being highly infectious increases the risk of people catching it and especially increases the risks associated with the incubation period before people start showing symptoms

At that point it probably becomes more worth it to attempt to severely disincentivise people exposing others to it, this will obviously cause some harm to some people but that’s probably outweighed by the thing where you don’t want people to, you know, die. The solution that immediately occurred to me is to make showing up for work sick automatically get you fired regardless of circumstances and fine employers severely if they aren’t willing to actually enforce this?

More generally you want to limit the possibility of exposure full stop, realistically you probably want to just shut down everything non-essential temporarily so that people don’t have to leave houses. There are obviously still going to be some problems there with getting people things like food, those could potentially be handled by just subsidizing deliveries to everyone done in some form along the lines of “driver leaves food delivery on your doorstep, you come collect it 15 minutes later” and adding some form of extra daily screening to the drivers for infection

i would enact the following
-high ranking officials and vital people to the running of the country go on 24 hour lock down
-work with other nations to cut international travel to the bare minimum needed to function.
-implement some form of incentive for staying home if there is any chance of them being infected
-study the pathogen with the brightest minds from the world to attempt to curb its lethality or infectivity to buy time for a cure to be made
-use autopsies of dead people to figure out what organs the disease attacks
-try any feasible cure or treatment on humans, regardless of side effects. The ends justify the means in this scenario

If a viral plague is to be defeated it requires some morals to be ignored and international cooperation

note: i’m not an expert either i’m a bored idiot

1 Like

I mean I think there are probably side effects severe enough that this wouldn’t apply

“this might work to cure you but it has a 99 percent chance of causing you to immediately have a heart attack”

there’s still the one percent

the ends justify the means

Okay but if in one case the consequence is “you probably die of disease” and in the other case the consequence is “you almost definitely die of a heart attack” then the treatment is actively lowering your chances of survival, meaning that the harmful consequences of the treatment would outweigh the harmful consequences of the disease

i personally rather die trying to live than die resigned yourself my fate

I mean if the disease actually has a 100 percent chance of killing you obviously that changes some things about whether you should take a 99 percent chance of death from other causes

on the other hand in that case my answer is irrelevant because we’re just actually all going to die

i’m tired and think the ends can justify the means


I also think the ends can justify the means

I just also like doing math to figure out if they do


fuckin nerd

have you heard the good news of malarial chemoprevention treatments

that sounds like smart people shit

They’re barely edging out malaria nets in terms of the most effective way to save lives given limited resources*

*note that this stops being true if you consider fetuses morally equivalent to adult humans, and may or may not be true depending on the amount of relative value you assign to the lives of babies, children of various ages, and adults

disease prevention is something i want to work with

however i’m dumb

and this requires brains

Ami we both know this isn’t true