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Is it a reasonable inference to speculate and use Bayes Theorem that Mike Pence's unilateral conjunctivitis was a troubling sign that he might have COVID?

Carl T. Bergstrom is speculating that Mike Pence has COVID given his unilateral conjunctivitis signs. He wrote:

"Now we need some probabilities; let's use Fermi estimation and estimate to the nearest powers of ten. Some studies suggest conjunctivitis is common among COVID patients, but let's be conservative and go with the meta-analysis suggests that conjunctivitis is a rare symptom of COVID, with frequency of about $1\% $. Unilateral conjunctivitis is uncommon in adults, with prevalence in probably closer to $0.1\%$ of the population at any given time than $1\%$ or $0.01$.

This also seems conservative; it means people with COVID are only 10 times more likely than people without COVID to have unilateral conjunctivitis.

Given the cluster of COVID cases around the Rose Garden events which Pence attended and around the White House leadership in general, there is a non-trivial probability that Pence is infected.

I'd guess about $25\% - 50\%$, but since we're using Fermi estimation let's go with a conservative $10\%$. Plugging these numbers into our formula we get

$$P(I|C) = \dfrac{0.01 \times 0.1}{0.01 \times 0.1 + 0.001 \times 0.9} = 0.52 = 52\%$$"

The paper that Carl quotes is this one:



in Data Science by anonymous
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An overview of the various reactions around Vice President Pence's pink eye.


Politico: What Caused Mike Pence’s Bloody Eye Vice President Mike Pence ignited speculation about his health when he arrived at the only vice presidential debate Wednesday night with a bloody left eye, but a senior administration official on Thursday said there’s no reason to be concerned. White House doctors have cleared the vice president of a conjunctivitis infection, commonly known as pink eye, and believe Pence suffered from a broken blood vessel instead, according to the official. (Orr, 10/8)

Vox: Mike Pence’s Pink-Looking Eye In The Debate Is More Than A Meme, As Covid-19 Infects The White House Vice President Mike Pence’s florid pink eye — similar to that of Joe Biden’s bloody debate eye last year — led to frenzied online speculation about his health and whether the eye condition could be linked to the coronavirus. For its post-debate coverage, ABC News kicked off by bringing on its chief medical correspondent Jennifer Ashton, who was unable to confirm whether Pence’s pink-colored eye was in fact the condition pink eye and whether it signified anything. “Anywhere from 11 to 30 percent of Covid patients can have pink eye. It can be an early sign,” Ashton said. “But he can just have some makeup in his eye.” (Nguyen, 10/8)

Los Angeles Times: Is Pink Eye A COVID-19 Symptom? Is pink eye a symptom of COVID-19? A lot of people have been wondering this since noticing that Mike Pence’s left eye looked decidedly pink at the vice presidential debate Wednesday night, even though the vice president has said he tested negative for a coronavirus infection. The short answer is: Pink eye can be caused by COVID-19, but only rarely. (Netburn, 10/8)

News 8: VP Mike Pence Postpones Plans To Vote In Indy Due To 'A Scheduling Issue'Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, have canceled plans to visit Indianapolis on Friday and vote in early balloting at the City-County Building, according to the Marion County Clerk’s Office. An adviser to Pence said the reason was not health-related. Marty Obst, senior political adviser for Pence, explained the cancellation in an email to News 8’s Demie Johnson: “It was merely a scheduling issue and definitely not health related.” (Dan Klein, 10/8)

In related news —

The Hill: Deadline Accidentally Publishes Story About Pence Being Diagnosed With COVID-19 Online news website Deadline on Thursday admitted to accidentally publishing a draft story that incorrectly stated that Vice President Pence tested positive for COVID-19. “A draft post of a story about Vice President Mike Pence testing positive for coronavirus that was never meant to publish was accidentally posted on Deadline,” the news organization said in a statement on its website roughly 30 minutes after the story had been posted. The outlet added that the article was “pulled down immediately.” (Castronuovo, 10/8)


by Diamond (50,516 points)

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