iSteve commenter Hypnotoad666 writes:
There are lots of important hypotheses to be tested. But none will be investigated until long after it is too late and the virus has run its course through the whole population.
Pursuant to bureaucratic fragmentation, HIIPA red tape, and political butt-covering, comprehensive or representative data is totally inaccessible.
No systematic data records who caught the virus, when they caught it, what health effects they suffered because of it, and their health and demographic backgrounds. Indeed, the powers that be have barely even starting the process of doing representative sampling.
There are vast data analytic resources available, including very smart data analysts and medical researchers could be enlisted to crowdsource solutions.
But they can’t do a damn thing without the data: Which is either not being collected, or is locked up tight.
As I may have mentioned once or twice before, for the last 7 years, the Internal Revenue Service has been letting Harvard economist Raj Chetty trawl through your tax returns and mine, which he has done to great media acclaim and almost zero criticism because the tax returns are anoymized so Chetty and his bright boys couldn’t possibly figure out who is who.
In the current crisis, why can’t some Big Data wizard be allowed to do something similar with, say, Veterans Administration or Kaiser Permanente data on the health records of millions? This could be hugely useful at telling us how much risk, say, schoolteachers would be in from reopening schools. What about workers at law firms? Bus drivers? Assembly line workers? This kind of info would be useful to know to build confidence in the economy again.
It could be be that, say, 20% of jobs account for 80% of infections among the employed. Why not figure out who is in the Relatively Safe 80%?
There are a million other potentially helpful questions that could be tackled from existing databases.
It’s tragic that America is hamstrung for a lack of mask manufacturing capacity, but it’s ridiculous for America to be hamstrung because of a lack of something we have in the greatest abundance in human history: number-crunching power.