Coronavirus

Balaji Srinivasan: The Coronavirus Might Eat the World

The biotech entrepreneur and Silicon Valley visionary calls for a "digital Dunkirk" to fix government failure and preserve future freedoms.

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How should the United States government and the rest of us respond to the coronavirus, which the World Health Organization has just declared a global pandemic?

Balaji Srinivasan, who was on a short list to run Donald Trump's Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has some strong opinions on the matter. Srinivasan is a former venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz and a serial entrepreneur with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. The genetic testing company he co-founded, Counsyl, helped change the way millions of people prepare for parenthood; his cryptocurrency startup, Earn.com, was acquired by Coinbase, where he served as chief technology officer.

In his prescient and lively Twitter feed, Srinivasan has been ahead of the curve in noting the coronavirus's potential to cause a global public health crisis and to disrupt our economic and social lives. During a conversation conducted via Skype, he talked about why he thinks the coronavirus may have as big an impact on our way of life as the 9/11 attacks, how the United States government—especially the FDA he once might have headed—has fumbled its response, and why we're likely looking at mandatory quarantines at the national level.

At the same time, Srinivasan believes that private-sector and nonprofit actors are conducting a "digital Dunkirk" rescue operation that could not just save countless lives but accelerate positive forms of decentralization in our political, economic, and personal lives.

Photo credits: Balaji Srinivasan speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2017, Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

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  1. “how the United States government—especially the FDA he once might have headed—has fumbled its response”

    decades upon decades of you people deregulating, starving the beast, portraying Government or any sort of collective civil action as always corrupt, coercive and inefficient might have something to do with it.

    fuckyougotmine works until it doesn’t.

    1. Trolling: C, just phoned in, little effort or forethought
      Presentation: C, capitalization and punctuation make things easier to read

    2. Or decades upon decades of overregulating, feeding the beast like a goose in a fois gras mill, and bowing before the government like it’s a major diety might have something to do with it.

      Thereoughttabealaw never really works.

    3. I can’t tell whether that’s sarcasm. Are you really unaware that the US government has grown to be nearly half of the economy and controls every aspect of the other half? We live in a central controlled economy and society that would have made Europeans fascists of a century ago proud. And people like you want even more of it. You’re disgusting.

    4. “decades upon decades of you people deregulating, starving the beast, portraying Government or any sort of collective civil action as always corrupt, coercive and inefficient might have something to do with it.”
      That strawman HAD to be heavy.

      “fuckyougotmine works until it doesn’t.”
      You’re right; the USSR collapsed as a result.

  2. “How To Stop Coronavirus From Eating the World”

    Take a deep breath. Recognize that the world is not going to end. Go about your business as ususal.

  3. When in trouble

    Or in doubt,

    Run in circles,

    Scream

    And Shout.

    The world is going insane over the common cold.

    Now, if this brainless panic manages to get us some kind of full spectrum vaccine AGAINST the common cold, I will praise your hysteria to the gods themselves.

    But it is a cold.

    The symptoms, the treatment, the prevention, even the dangers of the complications–they are all identical to those described as, for, and by the common cold.

    And, lo and behold, it is already known that 15% of all colds are caused by coronaviruses.

    This should NOT be having “as big an impact on our way of life as the 9/11 attacks”.

    Several IDENTICAL ‘pandemics’ are happening while it’s happening

    Yes, SEVERAL. Because the viruses that cause colds that are just lumped in under the header ‘the common cold’ do the same things and spread the same way AND ARE CURRENTLY (based on estimates of 2-4 colds per person per year) INFECTING OVER 250,000,000 PEOPLE EVERY WEEK.

    If we threw COVID-19 back into the ‘common cold’ mix, it would cease to be important in seconds. Because it’s not even a blip on that massive radar screen.

    1. Its not exactly the common cold – esp for older folks who are most at risk for severe symptoms. Of course, there is an overblown sense of do-somethingism that leads to an unfocused response

      1. Its not the common cold, its also not Ebola or the Bubonic plague, and people should stop talking as if it is, which is my main issue. By all indications, it looks comparable to the flu, except we have a flu vaccine and we don’t have a covid-19 vaccine — which is the difference.

        If you’re taking a reasonable position you should recognize that safety precautions are good. For the individual level, the same stuff medical professionals say you should be doing anyway with regard to the flu, but which most people don’t do. On the government level, there is some necessity of a response because covid-19 cases have the potential to overwhelm the healthcare system.

        But, there’s a difference between supporting safety precautions and going into panic mode. People should correctly educate themselves. Learn what the virus is, what cases lead to deaths, what cases don’t. The mortality rate people are citing on TV is misleading to go by. I don’t think people arguing against the “this is just like the flu” message are helping, because it is just like the flu, except we don’t have a vaccine.

      2. No, he’s right: there are thousands of viruses that cause “the” common cold, some of them no doubt as unpleasant as covid, but simply unrecognized.

        Covid is a social and political phenomenon, not a medical one.

    2. Legitimately: What’s the mortality rate of the cold? Quick google doesn’t let me see.

      1. There is no such thing as “the” common cold. It’s thousands of viruses, even from different families. A few decades ago, we might never even have identified corona virus as a separate entity.

    3. And, lo and behold, it is already known that 15% of all colds are caused by coronaviruses.

      And there are lots of retroviruses out there that have no impact on humans, so AIDS probably is ok to have.

      1. Ironically, unless you’re a faggot with AIDS or a geriatric clinging to life, your risk from coronovirus, rounded to the nearest whole number, is exactly 0.

        1. You’ll just lash out at anyone, won’t you?

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  6. The comparison is ludicrious. The 9/11 terrorist attack was a real event and wasn’t a manufactured crisis. This “pandemic” is not and has been created to cause hysteria and panic.

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  9. What’s the Symptoms And Risk of Coronavirus, Can anyone tell me? According to Balaji Srinivasan, Really Coronavirus will eat the world?

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