Re: Rebooked venues selected for IETF 112, IETF 117, and IETF 120 meetings

John C Klensin <john-ietf@jck.com> Thu, 04 June 2020 04:30 UTC

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Date: Thu, 04 Jun 2020 00:30:38 -0400
From: John C Klensin <john-ietf@jck.com>
To: Fred Baker <fredbaker.ietf@gmail.com>
cc: Brian E Carpenter <brian.e.carpenter@gmail.com>, Christopher Morrow <morrowc.lists@gmail.com>, George Michaelson <ggm@algebras.org>, IETF Discussion Mailing List <ietf@ietf.org>
Subject: Re: Rebooked venues selected for IETF 112, IETF 117, and IETF 120 meetings
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--On Wednesday, June 3, 2020 17:43 -0700 Fred Baker
<fredbaker.ietf@gmail.com> wrote:

>  I can't foresee when a
>>> vaccine will become widely available.
> 
> What I am reading suggests that if we don't have an
> effective vaccine for SARS or the common cold, we shouldn't
> predicate our actions on a vaccine for COVID-19...

Fred,

I see two differences:  

(1) While I gather the relative mortality statistics for SARS
versus COVID-19 are still in doubt and we know that almost no
one suffers lasting damage from the common cold, COVID-19 seems
to be nearly unique in being dangerous or severely debilitating
to a significant number of those infected _and_ in there being
clear evidence of many, quite infectious, asymptomatic or
pre-symptomatic carriers.   The supposition the people can be
contagious for up to a couple of weeks before exhibiting
symptoms is, of course, where all the "14 day" stuff comes from
[1].  We don't need a vaccine to solve that problem, but the
alternative (actually the better one, see [1]) is a test that
yields almost zero false negatives, is effective as soon as (or
before) someone becomes infectious, was very widely available,
and was so easy to administer and had such fast turnaround time
that one could administer it to every arriving passenger and not
let them out of some airport holding area before the results
were in.[2]

(2) It is personal guess (and I note my earlier comments about
forecasting the future) that "venue closed, no meetings allowed"
or other clearcut situations related to the virus on which the
IETF can "predicate its actions", are less likely to be our big
problem.  The bigger problem is going to be countries like
Australia or New Zealand who _require_ a 14 day quarantine
period when someone enters the country.  As a worst-case
example, suppose that Thailand imposes a similar rule for
November but hotels are open and meetings are welcome.  If
nothing else changes in between, the implication for Brian, Jay,
Mark, Mark, and others would be a requirement to arrive in
Thailand two weeks before the meeting, sit around in isolation
for those two weeks, attend the meeting, and then fly home and
spend another two weeks in isolation.  I can't speak for any of
them, but I'm guessing that a penalty of five or more weeks away
from home, normal work, families, etc., to attend an IETF
meeting would cause many people to decide on remote
participation.  I'd guess that even a two-week penalty (on top
of the week of meetings) would keep most people away and would
deter many or most companies who sponsor meeting attendance from
letting anyone attend.  If that situation were to arise and that
analysis were correct, then the only thing on which we would be
predicating our actions would be the question of whether enough
relevant people would show up.   If I were a betting man, I'd
bet that enough companies who support IESG, IAB, and LLC Board
members would want nothing to do with a three- or five-week away
scenario to make the outcome rather clear.

best,
   john

[1] While it seems to get lost in most of the discussions (and
almost all of the government decision-making and guidance) the
14 day business is really about pre-symptomatic carriers, i.e.,
people who, if exposed and infected, will develop either
symptoms or positive results on a test for an active virus
during that period.  If there are really asymptomatic carriers
who can be infectious for a long period with no symptoms at all,
all bets are off in the absence of either a highly effective
vaccine or a very high reliability test.

[2] Of course, suppose a planeload of people arrives at the main
airport in Lower Slobbovia.  Everyone is immediately tested and
routed into a holding area.  The test results come back and two
people test positive.   Now, assuming that the virus has a
non-zero incubation period before tests are effective, what do
you, as the responsible immigration and public health
authorities, do?   I think the only scientifically sensible (and
sensible from a public heath standpoint) answer is to isolate
everyone for long enough for the virus to incubate and reliably
start showing up on tests.  Maybe, in the presence of a really
good test, that would be only three or four days or a week but,
relative to the analysis above, that isn't much different from
two weeks in terms of its deterrent effect on travel.