New book highlights need for rapid, frequent screening to control the pandemic

Covid-19 is a global pandemic inflicting large health and economic costs. In his previous book, The Pandemic Information Gap: The Brutal Economics of COVID-19 (The MIT Press, 2020), economist Joshua Gans explains that those costs have been so large because governments and others have lacked the information needed to control the pandemic. Unless we know who is infectious, we can't break the chains of transmission, which results in the escalation of our problems. Pandemics, he writes, are information problems.

Now, in a follow-up book, The Pandemic Information Solution (Endeavor Literary Press, 2021), Gans, a professor at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, outlines the solution to the information gap. By engaging in rapid, frequent screening, we can control the pandemic and restore normality. We can lower the number of cases, break chains of transmission, and make it safe for people to interact again.

This will require changing our mindset about testing, gathering the right information, and matching that information to the right decisions. We have the ingredients to do all these things. We just need to put them together in a scalable and sustainable system. This book is a guide to the issues and trade-offs that policymakers and other key decision-makers need to grapple with and follow.

The ideas in the book provide the foundation for the CDL Rapid Screening Consortium, an initiative based at the Rotman School's Creative Destruction Lab to bring rapid antigen screens to workplaces at scale.

Joshua Gans is a professor of strategic management and the Jeffrey S. Skoll Chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Rotman School, where is he also the Chief Economist for the Creative Destruction Lab. He has a PhD from Stanford University and an honors degree in economics from the University of Queensland. In 2012, he was appointed as a research associate of the NBER in the Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Program. At the Rotman School he teaches entrepreneurial strategy to MBA and Rotman Commerce students.​

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