Bookmarked Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | 16-24 February 2020 [.pdf] (who.int)
The overall goal of the Joint Mission was to rapidly inform national (China) and international planning on next steps in the response to the ongoing outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and on next steps in readiness and preparedness for geographic areas not yet affected.
Read The Wuhan Virus: How to Stay Safe by Laurie Garrett (Foreign Policy)
As China’s epidemic continues to spread, things may seem scary. Here are 10 simple precautions that can protect you from contracting the coronavirus.

Some simple and easy to carry out precautions for the coming months.

On the Media Black Swans ()

Listened to The Daily: The Coronavirus Goes Global from New York Times

The illness is on every continent except Antarctica, with more new cases now being reported outside China than within. But how threatening is the outbreak, really?

Listened to Episode 8: Choice Overload by Dr Laurie SantosDr Laurie Santos from The Happiness Lab

We all make thousands of choices each day. But making even trivial decisions can sap our energy and cause anxiety. Dr Laurie Santos examines why our society wrongly prioritises choice over happiness, and meets a woman who junked her wardrobe in a bid to improve her life.

Limiting one’s choice can be an important thing in life.

There’s some discussion of limiting one’s wardrobe choices as a way of freeing one’s life up a bit. They didn’t mention the oft-heard example of Einstein wearing the same thing every day, but did catch the possibly better example of Obama cycling through the small handful of choices in his wardrobe to limit the yet another decision of many he had to make each day.

Listened to Food safety and industry concentration: How the back seat of a car is like a bag of leafy greens by Jeremy Cherfas from Eat This Podcast

microscopic image of e-coli

In the previous episode, I talked to Phil Howard of Michigan State University about concentration in the food industry. Afterwards, I realised I had been so taken up with what he was telling me that I forgot to ask him one crucial question.

Is there any effect of concentration on public health or food safety?

It seems intuitively obvious that if you have long food chains, dependent on only a few producers, there is the potential for very widespread outbreaks. That is exactly what we are seeing in the current outbreaks of dangerous E. coli on romaine lettuce and Salmonella in eggs. But it is also possible that big industrial food producers both have the capital to invest in food safety and face stiffer penalties when things go wrong.

Are small producers and short food chains better? Marc Bellemare, at the University of Minnesota, has uncovered a strong correlation between some food-borne illnesses and the number of farmers’ markets relative to the population.

Phil thinks one answer is greater decentralization. There’s no good reason why all the winter lettuce and spinach in America should come from a tiny area around Yuma, Arizona. Marc says consumer education would help; we need to handle the food we buy with more attention to keeping it safe. Both solutions will take quite large changes in behaviour, by government and by ordinary people.

Right now, it probably isn’t possible to say with any certainty whether one system is inherently safer than the other. But even asking the question raises some interesting additional questions. If you have answers, or even suggestions, let me know.

Notes

  1. Phil Howard’s work on food-borne illness is on his website.
  2. Marc Bellemare’s work on farmers’ markets and food-borne illness has gone through a few iterations. He’ll email you a copy of the final paper if you ask.
  3. An episode early last year looked at aspects of food safety in developing countries. Spoiler: shorter food chains are safer there.
  4. Banner photo, norovirus. Cover photo, E. coli. Both public domain to the best of my knoweldge.
I can’t help but think about analogizing the mass production and distribution of food to that of social media (again). Replace food producers with social media and you’ve got large mega-producers like Facebook and Twitter at one end and smaller scale indie producers at the other. Surely outbreaks of issues with democracy, bulllying, racism, doxxing, etc. will happen all around, but when they happen on the larger platforms, then far more people are affected.

From an economic standpoint it would be nice to have more significant studies to see what the overall pieces of large and small producers are (as well as for the distribution piece too). What is the ultimate equilibrium point for overall cost versus public health? What would it look like theoretically?

👓 The Truth About Pregnancy Over 40 | NYT Parenting

Read The Truth About Pregnancy Over 40 (NYT Parenting)
More than 100,000 Americans give birth in their 40s each year, but what does that mean for the health of their pregnancies and their babies?

How this phenomenon translates into absolute, rather than relative, risk, however, is a bit thorny. A large study published in 2018, for instance, found that among women who had children between 34 and 47, 2.2 percent developed breast cancer within three to seven years after they gave birth (among women who never had children, the rate was 1.9 percent). Over all, according to the American Cancer Society, women between 40 and 49 have a 1.5 percent chance of developing breast cancer.

The rates here are so low as to be nearly negligible on their face. Why bother reporting it?
November 14, 2019 at 06:49PM

Originally bookmarked this article on November 12, 2019 at 06:53PM

👓 Does the news reflect what we die from? | Our World in Data

Read Does the news reflect what we die from? (Our World in Data)
There is a large disconnect between what gets covered in the media and the day-to-day reality for most. How do causes of death in the US match with media coverage and what people search for online?
Some interesting ethical and moral questions here relating to public health and how it’s covered in the media.

This could be a nice interview segment for On the Media.

🔖 Food Deserts | r-haye.bergbuilds.domains

Bookmarked Food Deserts (r-haye.bergbuilds.domains)
"…We know that the distance you live from a supplier of fresh produce is one of the best predictors of your health…" – Michael Pollan
hat tip:

🎧 How Is Lead Still A Problem? | The Stakes | On the Media | WNYC Studios

Listened to How Is Lead Still A Problem? from On the Media | WNYC Studios

Once in a while, in this space, we offer you an episode of another podcast that we think is pretty aligned with our goals here at On the Media. This week, we’re offering you the first episode of a new podcast from WNYC Studios, called The Stakes. The angle is: we built the society we've got. And maybe it's time to build a new one.

You can and should subscribe to The Stakes wherever you get your podcasts (we are). But in the meantime, here's their first episode all about the pervasive problem of lead paint stillpoisoning children. The ancient Greeks knew lead is poisonous. Ben Franklin wrote about its dangers. So how did it end up being all around us? And how is it still a problem?

I knew lead paint was a huge problem, but didn’t know about some of the early history about why. It’s painful that this is still such a problem in current society. It’s deplorable that corporations can get away with exploiting society with externalities like this.

On the Media is one of the few podcasts that I don’t mind when they sneak other episodes of material into their feed because they have such a solid editorial voice of what does or doesn’t appear in their feed.

The general idea behind The Stakes is very solid. Their general premise makes me think they should potentially interview Mike Monteiro whose book Ruined by Designed I’ve recently begun reading

Another interesting episode idea for the show with this theme could cover surveillance capitalism and digital redlining potentially with interviews with academics/researchers like Chris Gilliard, Cathy O’Neil, and Tressie McMillan Cottom.

🎧 The Too-Good-To-Be-True Cancer Cure | On the Media | WNYC Studios

Listened to The Too-Good-To-Be-True Cancer Cure from On the Media | WNYC Studios

Despite steadily declining rates of cancer deaths over the past two decades, cancer remains responsible for 1 in every 6 deaths worldwide. It’s a scourge. So when, this week, an Israeli company called Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies captured the news cycle with promises of a complete cure for cancer within the year, the story caught fire.

The company’s technology is called “MuTaTo” — that's multi-target toxin. And, to judge from the news media this week, it seems vetted, verified and veering us all toward a cancer-free future. Reports began in the Jerusalem Post, but quickly took off, making their way into various Murdoch-owned publications like FOX and the New York Post and landing in local news outlets around the country and the globe.

A couple days into the fanfare, the skeptics started coming out: for one thing, as oncologist David Gorski points out in his blog “Respectful Insolence,” the claims are based on experiments with mice: no human trials have yet started. For another, they haven’t been sufficiently peer reviewed. In fact, the company won’t share its research, claiming it can’t afford the expense. The too-good-to-be-true story appears to be just that, built on PR puffery. But who can resist a good cancer cure?

With Mutato in mind, for this week’s podcast extra, we revisit our Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook: Health News edition, with Gary Schwitzer, publisher & founder of HealthNewsReview.org.

This is a fantastic piece of reporting relating to improved journalism and media consumption with respect to the frequent health studies seen in the main stream media. For those interested, here’s a link to the original version from 2015.