Posts

Comments

Comment by nongiga on Biggest Biosecurity Threat? Antibiotic Resistance · 2020-05-17T18:05:16.486Z · EA · GW

Hi, I'm an EA working in a prominent antibiotics resistance lab. From my point of view, antibiotics resistance is a big issue, resistance is growing, HOWEVER, there are actually a lot of medications in the pipeline that are effective but weren't brought to market because it's not financially viable right now (that I heard in a talk by Floyd Romesberg). There are also other interesting therapies like antimicrobial peptides (explanation here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15761415 ). My lab developed an ML model that will help doctors in Israel select the most optimal antibiotic (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-019-0503-6 ) and also sequencing is getting so good that it's not improbable that in 10 years, IF THERE WILL BE A NEED you'd come to the Doctor, he'll swab you and get a full antibiotics resistance profile, and prescribe you a medication accordingly.

The reason that these medications and technologies aren't implemented is that antibiotics resistance is still more or less manageable, it is not at a crisis level. Unlike pandemics, a global antibiotics resistance crisis doesn't rise in one day (though it is quick! there was essentially very little 70 years ago) so that means that was the situation to become worse, it is possible to draw on all these technologies to form some sort of defense. However, it is true that many people die of antibiotics a year and it will likely affect developing countries disproportionately. All in all, it is true that antibiotics resistance is a threat, but it's just not a GBCR.

Comment by nongiga on Helping wild animals through vaccination: could this happen for coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2? · 2020-05-13T18:54:09.402Z · EA · GW

This is a very creative idea. A few of my thoughts:


1) Like you pointed out, many diseases that can be very virulent in humans (Ebola, Nipah, Coronavirus) are not so virulent in bats, so there would be many instances where a vaccination program will be very valuable for humans but have very little (and maybe even negative, due to side effects) effect on the wild animal population.

2) Diseases tend to be harmful in dense, homogeneous populations. Like people, or livestock. I don't know how much disease really impacts wild animal suffering - there could be surprisingly small infection rates and impact.

3) Before vaccines we need survellience, not only because it will answer the question of how much disease affects wild animal suffering, but also because it's impossible to produce a vaccine without a sequence.

4) Take into account that vaccine development involves a LOT of test subjects - which in this case will have to be wild animals grown in laboratory conditions. Could be thousands or even more. Even though a vaccine is developed, it might not be implemented because it fell through so any process like this could have a large unintentional negative impact. I'd be interested to know how vaccines are developed for animals (especially non-domesticated ones) because my guess is that the standards for side effects would be lower than humans, even only because it's harder to detect side effects in animals. I'm really curious about the gel that was developed for bat white-nose syndrome!

Comment by nongiga on Open Thread #40 · 2018-07-24T20:04:19.318Z · EA · GW

I was terrified of pursuing an EA career

For 3 years after joining EA I was still set on going to medical school. I knew I could do more but I was just terrified of switching. Even when I got an opportunity presented to me I was very torn between pursuing it or staying in my comfort zone. Now I'm having the best summer of my life in a biosecurity internship. I'm more motivated, I'm more productive, I'm going on more adventures, and I have a lot more and better connections than before.

EA was amazing in that having this network made it easier to go into an effective field than any other option I have, and for the first time in my life I'm doing something I'm passionate about.

So if any of you reading this and you're on the fence about a big career change, just know that it might be harder than your current plan, but it might also be easier!