43. Will a new version of COVID be substantially able to escape Omicron vaccines in 2023?
Dec 31

This question will resolve positive if in the opinion of the judges the scientific consensus is that getting all currently-recommended vaccines, including the two original vaccines and the Omicron booster, decreases risk of the new variant by less than 50%.

This is question #43 in the Astral Codex Ten 2023 Prediction Contest. The contest rules and full list of questions are available here. Market will resolve according to Scott Alexander’s judgment, as given through future posts on Astral Codex Ten.

Get Ṁ500 play money

Related questions

Sort by:
NoaNabeshima avatar
Noa Nabeshima
ACXBot avatar
ACX BotBot

I mean, didn’t this already happen? The Omicron booster is not for the variants currently in circulation, and I’d say there is ‘substantial’ although partial escape already. So any new version of Covid that comes from the existing dominant strains would indeed quality. Scott didn’t mean the question that way, or he wouldn’t have asked it, which doesn’t mean he won’t resolve it that way. We also don’t know if this means versus infection or versus hospitalization and death. The intent is presumably ‘substantially more than the ones out there at the start of the year’ and even then it seems pretty vague. If I interpret this as ‘the virus once again does what Omicron did in terms of vaccine escape,’ a thing that Alpha and Delta notably did not do, then we have one example of this in three years, and 58% would be way too high, I’d be more like 30% give or take the other ambiguities. I’m putting a nominal M10 into NO and otherwise staying away due to ambiguity.

- Zvi Mowshowitz

NicoDelon avatar
Nicopredicts YES

The resolution criterion is very vague and the discussion on ACT doesn't help. Escape normally refers to immunity against infection. So, not hospitalizations or deaths. But recent variants already escape current vaccines substantially.

finnhambly avatar
Finn Hamblypredicts NO

@NicoDelon Agreed! I interpret the resolution criteria as being about hospitalisations and deaths, because that's what the current rationale rests on

NicoDelon avatar
Nicopredicts YES

@finnhambly It’d be nice to have a clarification.

BTE avatar
Brian T. Edwardspredicts YES


LucaMasters avatar
Luca Masterspredicts YES

@BTE Washington Post says "Virologists who studied XBB.1.5 say it does not appear better at escaping antibodies than other immune-evading predecessors, but it is better at binding to the cell and replicating."

So probably not yet.