Sway Interview Highlights with Dr. Ashish Jha and Emily Oster

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read
Sway Interview Highlights with Dr. Ashish Jha and Emily Oster
Cover art from The New York Times

This is an experiment with a new series where I pull out some good quotes from podcast episodes I think are particularly good. I hope you like it!

Today's episode is Kara Swisher's Sway, which you can listen to here. First is about messaging from experts changing over the past 2 years.

The public health messaging is changing, but we expected it to change because the pandemic changes and the population changes. And one of the problems has been that people kind of expected consistency of…"why is this message different from what you were giving a year ago?" And it's because the world is changed, and that has been a challenge, I think, for a lot of folks. And conveying that the message a year from now will look different from today and that's OK too.

On the biggest impact on Omicron being a big deal right now:

To me, this is the biggest challenge at this point in the pandemic, and you could argue that if we did not have this level of misinformation, we would have manages Omicron very, very differently. Imagine a world where 90% of adults were vaccinated and boosted, and most kids were vaccinated. Omicron wave would've washed over us, the hospitals would have been fine, we would've largely been able to go on with little to no major impact.

On how we're not doing a good job of getting American data to study and need to extrapolate from other countries doing a much better job of it.

The biggest problems of this entire pandemic is almost all the decisions we make are based on data from other countries. I mean like Israel, here's the data from the UK, South Africa, and I'm like, "how about data  from America?!" Like how about we use American data?! Again, I'm delighted to use data from Israel, don't get me wrong, but idea that we never could build a data infrastructure to let us make decisions about America, is kind of ridiculous.

On Florida and the idea that therapeutic drugs are all we need.

One of my critiques of governor DeSantis has been he's not done enough on slowing the spread, I don't think he's been strong on vaccines, and then he said, "but the therapeutics will bail us out." The problem with that is that we're not gonna have millions of people getting therapeutic infusions every day. Like that's not a good strategy. It's expensive, it has all sorts of complex problems, so we need better long-term strategies.

And finally, on the idea that viruses always evolve to become less deadly (they don't):

One of the misinformation pieces out there is this idea that viruses always evolve to become less virulent. This is nonesense, that's not ture, sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. What I am very confident of is every single variant that nature has thrown at us the tools that we have now cancounter them,. And so what we need to do at this moment, as we come out of the Omicron surge, is to start building up our stockpiles. Make sure we have tons of tests, make sure we have plenty of masks, make sure that we're working on better and higher quality vaccines.