Tuesday, February 21, 2017

DARPA battles to stop Cathedral incompetence from destroying the world

Technological decay is a real concern these days. Tech decay is really legislative accumulation, bureaucratic decay, or organizational decay under puritan quotas. When religious tests are the method of advancement rather than competence, agencies and corporations stagnate. The antibiotic crisis is really a crises of the states making. The government has made getting a new drug approved so expensive that companies would rather manufacture maintenance drugs than lower priced vaccines and antibiotics. This is really the agency protecting the profits of pharmaceuticals and the payrolls of itself at the expense of public health. Then higher levels of the state fail to correct the problem or create alternative national drug companies to develop what the private sector will not.

In contrast to this run of the mill crisis manufacturing of government, DAPA may actually deliver something positive, perhaps temporarily reversing tech decay in some small way. To quote DARPA;
“DARPA’s goal is to create a technology platform that can place a protective treatment into health providers’ hands within 60 days of a pathogen being identified, and have that treatment induce protection in patients within three days of administration. We need to be able to move at this speed considering how quickly outbreaks can get out of control,”
It seems someone up in the office observed just how close the world came to being wiped out by the Ebola outbreak of 2014 to 2016 and realized that the end of humanity would be bad for everyone's stock price. Perversely, according to the Cathedral documentary show Frontline, the only thing that actually stopped the outbreak was that Africans in the affected countries changed their behavior. As the documentary said;
"Thousands more were still to die across West Africa, but the changing behavior of the population, and the massive international response, gradually turned the tide."
"But the drop in numbers was real. With death all around them, Liberians were changing how they lived their lives. They stopped trying to nurse their sick and began to bury their dead safely."
Bruce Aylward, M.D., Asst. Director-General, Emergencies, WHO:
"The entire Monrovia knew Ebola was real, Ebola kills, Ebola’s going to kill me unless I do one or two things differently."
"There was a huge fear, and they changed their behaviors in ways which suddenly slowed down and took the heat out of this thing. And that’s what turned it around. Liberians turned their country around. We got in there a little bit afterward and took a lot of credit." 
So this is how close we came to the end of the world: we are only here because a population of people who still use witch doctors decided to stop handling the dead bodies of loved ones in a traditional manner, which always seemed to involve some excuse for touching the infected corpse. Because "muh spirits will wander the village," or something. It was these people not touching the infected corpse all the time which is why we still exist, and not the superlative competence of our health services, immigration procedures, or FDA approval process for new vaccines. That should make you nervous.

DARPA freaked out. Perhaps because DARPA is one of a handful of agencies who are allowed to fire employees and actually, you know, be competent and stuff. So I guess DARPA isn't eager to let the Cathedral cause the end of the world, at least not until they get an affirmative action program and a religious test of their own. To quote the release;
"The Pandemic Prevention Platform (P3) program aims to develop an integrated platform that uses nucleic acid sequences to halt the spread of viral infections in sixty days or less. Using nucleic-acid-based technologies pioneered by DARPA as a foundation, the program now seeks to create an end-to-end platform by developing technologies to overcome remaining bottlenecks that hinder rapid response to pandemic threats. The three required technology areas cover growth of virus to support testing of treatments; rapid evolution of protective antibodies outside of the body; and safe and efficient delivery of nucleic-acid-based protective treatments."
And to quote the article on the subject;
"Key to this undertaking are nucleic-acid-based technologies—those that are centered on DNA and RNA—including some developed under DARPA’s Autonomous Diagnostics to Enable Prevention and Therapeutics (ADEPT) program. Using these tools, scientists can identify protective antibodies from recovering patients and then, through a biological version of reverse engineering, manufacture genetic constructs that, when delivered, can instruct an individual’s body to produce similar protective antibodies. Significant quantities of these nucleic acid “blueprints” can be rapidly manufactured compared to state-of-the-art antibody production methods."
"What is required now are breakthroughs in three other technology areas to bridge those past DARPA achievements and overcome the remaining bottlenecks that hinder rapid response to pandemic threats. The P3 program will pursue innovations in those three areas:"
"Growing virus needed to support evaluation of therapies in laboratory tests;"
"Subjecting antibodies to rapid rounds of evolution outside of the body to increase their potency beyond that of even the most effective antibodies obtained from infected patients; and"
"Developing means of efficiently delivering nucleic-acid-based protective treatments, since the technologies used to administer conventional vaccines do not readily translate."
"Achieving and integrating breakthroughs in all of these areas will require choreographed cooperation among researchers and engineers specializing in such areas as immunology, microbiology, virology, medical infectious diseases, molecular biology, and medical countermeasure product development and manufacturing."
There is a real danger that the ability of the Cathedral to respond to threats will simply decay to the point where civilization itself collapses. We live in a globally interconnected world. People often forget that if you are going to have routine international air travel across borders you must also have a world health bureaucracy capable of responding to planetary epidemics. We do not presently have said capability. Why? Because "muh feels" and "equality." And because the profits of big pharma and the payrolls of the FDA are more important than public health.

The FDA is considered underfunded. But is not "underfunded" just another way of saying over-mandated? You would think that this would be the CDC's concern right? But FDA is responsible for new vaccine development, you know, like the kind that would develop an Ebola vaccine. And various left-wing pressure groups over the years have created and worsened its drug lag. Every time FDA drags is heels on the approval of a new drug lives that could be saved are lost. The effect is to protect the profits of drug companies against competition and to generate jobs at FDA for civil servants. As we all know, the left is the institutions, and the only purpose of the institutions is to grow for the sake of growing, and for the sake of generating more employment for leftists. The history of this is a tale of leftism screwing up yet another aspect of society. The champions of this screw up were of course operating in the 1960's culture wars. To extensively quote yet another article;
"With the 1962 amendments, Congress gave the FDA authority to judge a drug's efficacy—whether it produced the results for which it had been developed. Formerly the agency had monitored only safety. Indeed, from 1938 until 1962, the FDA had just sixty days to disapprove the application of a new drug. If it did not, the drug could be marketed. The system worked without significant incident. But in 1962 the thalidomide tragedy hit the world."
A government agency uses tragedy to expand its mandate and funding. Gee, where else has that occurred?
"A sedative used to prevent miscarriage, thalidomide caused the birth of several thousand deformed babies in Europe. Thalidomide was not so major a tragedy in the United States, however, because the existing safety regulations allowed the FDA to catch it early. Ironically, the publicity generated by pictures of deformed newborns in Europe led Congress to amend the U.S. drug laws to add an efficacy requirement to the existing safety rules, even though the problem with thalidomide was safety, not efficacy. Congress gave the FDA the authority and latitude in judgment to decide whether a new drug did what it claimed it could do. It was not long after this expansion of regulatory responsibility that the phrase "drug lag" entered the lexicon."
"Some critics charged that the efficacy requirement was extraneous to the agency's central mission to monitor safety. The often complicated procedures created for assessing a drug's efficacy added to the years required to get a new drug into general use. A 1974 study by University of Chicago economist Sam Peltzman concluded that since 1962 the new rules had reduced the rate of introduction of effective new drugs significantly—from an average of forty-three annually in the decade before the amendments to just sixteen annually in the ten years afterward. Peltzman also found that the regulations also made it difficult for companies to introduce drugs that competed with existing drugs, thus reducing competition in the industry."
"The drug lag controversy intensified with the rise of the AIDS epidemic. On October 12, 1988, a large group of AIDS activists staged a demonstration at the FDA's headquarters in suburban Washington, chanting, "No more deaths!" They were protesting the snail's pace at which the FDA was approving new drugs to combat AIDS. These and other critics, who complained about the agency's handling of drugs to treat cancer and heart disease, posed a new and controversial question about drug delays: was not the federal agency charged by Congress with protecting ill Americans from harmful or useless drugs actually causing great harm to patients, precisely for exercising its congressional mandate?"
"Have patients in other countries gained access to new drugs sooner than patients in the United States? The Center for Drug Development at Tufts University studied forty-six new drugs approved by the United States in 1985 and 1986 and found that 72 percent were available on average 5.5 years earlier in foreign markets. Other studies, comparing drug approvals back to 1972, have suggested a similar time lag in the United States. Meanwhile, the costs of development rise. The cost of developing a new drug in the United States is estimated to have risen to $231 million today from $54 million in 1976 (all in 1987 dollars), with the approval time from earliest development to final marketing typically about twelve years."
"The FDA responded to complaints about drug lag and the availability of promising experimental drugs by introducing a number of reforms. The most notable was "fast track" approval of the AIDS drug AZT, which was cleared for use within two years after it was discovered to be effective against the HIV virus. Other reforms allow patients access to promising experimental drugs. Unfortunately, to qualify to provide experimental drugs, administering physicians must meet burdensome paperwork requirements, such as the need to draft a "treatment protocol" for submission to an institutional review board, a practice more common to university-based clinical investigators. Also, because insurers will often resist payment for unapproved drugs, the rules limit the amount manufacturers may charge to "cost recovery," loosely defined as excluding charges that would constitute "commercialization" of the drug. Manufacturers, therefore, have little incentive to provide the drugs."
What we have here is a combination of bureaucratic incompetence stifling new drug/vaccine/antibiotic development, and a steadily rising threat of pandemics, some of them potentially engineered by terrorists.

Bill Gates recently spoke at the Munich Security Conference, and said;
“The next epidemic could originate on the computer screen of a terrorist intent on using genetic engineering to create a synthetic version of the smallpox virus, or a super contagious and deadly strain of the flu,” said Gates, whose private foundation helps combat public health and global warming problems. “Getting ready for a global pandemic is every bit as important as nuclear deterrence and avoiding a climate catastrophe.”
 And speaking of companies that are in the bio-hacking business, The Economist ran a piece on DIY bio-hacking. To quote The Economist quoting the founder of the bio-hacking company Genspace;
"“Our goal is not only to advance biology, but democratise it,” explains Ellen Jorgensen, president of Genspace. Founded in 2010, the community laboratory in Brooklyn is the model for the two dozen others that have since opened around the world. Genspace hosts all sorts of events, including “biohacker boot camps”, as well as projects such as “barcoding” in Alaska, an attempt to catalogue plants."
Continuing. . .
"If 3D printers are the tool of choice for makers, PCR machines are de rigueur in amateur labs. Using a biochemical technology called polymerase chain reaction (hence PCR), the machines are used to identify a specific segment of DNA and make multiple copies of it. “You can now build these in a garage,” says Josh Perfetto, who is one of the founders of OpenPCR, a group which has developed a simple PCR machine that costs only $600." 
As Eliezer Yudkowsky would say, "Every eighteen months, the minimum IQ necessary to destroy the world drops by one point.”

At some point in the future the technology of DIY genetic engineering is going to exceed the organizational competence of health agencies, or as Nick Land would say, "The human species is too stupid to live." Sounds like prophecy to me. . .

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