Joshua Gans' Newsletter

Joshua Gans' Newsletter focuses on analyzing impacts and responses to COVID-19 across various fields including economics, education, health protocols, and technology. It explores pandemic management strategies, vaccine distribution, data management in health crises, and the adaptation of businesses and societal structures amidst the pandemic, emphasizing on innovation and the need for swift adaptation.

Pandemic Management Economic Impacts of COVID-19 Education and COVID-19 Health Protocols and Screening Vaccine Development and Distribution Data Management in Health Crises Technological Adaptations to Pandemics Business Adaptation and Strategy Public Health Communication Societal Changes due to COVID-19

The hottest Substack posts of Joshua Gans' Newsletter

And their main takeaways
1 HN point β€’ 22 Mar 24
  1. Antitrust law plays a critical role in differentiating between good and bad business practices, but should be applied carefully to avoid hindering competition.
  2. The Department of Justice's case against Apple revolves around concerns about practices that may raise switching costs for consumers, such as restrictions on certain app features and iMessage functionalities.
  3. Apple's market share dominance in the US doesn't seem to correlate with antitrust concerns seen elsewhere globally, leading to questions about the effectiveness and necessity of the DOJ's approach.
119 implied HN points β€’ 18 Dec 20
  1. The CDL Rapid Screening Consortium, led by Creative Destruction Lab and 12 companies, is implementing rapid antigen screens to enable daily screening to identify and isolate infectious individuals and protect others.
  2. The consortium aims to make rapid screening a part of daily life in Canada, with workers and visitors being frequently screened, helping to minimize exposure and bring economies back to normality.
  3. The initiative addresses the challenge of scaling pandemic management efforts, focusing on ongoing, regular screening to ensure a safer environment and eventually bringing back normalcy to daily life.
59 implied HN points β€’ 05 Oct 20
  1. Complacency during a crisis can lead us to let our guard down, requiring constant adherence to protocols to manage the situation.
  2. Strict protocols are necessary, especially in high-risk environments like the White House, and must be followed diligently to prevent breakdowns in the system.
  3. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis demands vigilance from all of us - we need to innovate ways to maintain strict screening protocols and not let our guard down.
39 implied HN points β€’ 25 Jan 21
  1. The costs of proceeding with the Olympics are trivial, and it is safe to go ahead with the event even with minimal attendance in stadiums.
  2. The number of people required to stage the Olympics and be vaccinated is relatively low, making the cost of prioritizing their vaccinations over others very small.
  3. Continuing with the Olympics despite the pandemic provides a sense of normality and value to many countries, with minimal costs and the potential for international cooperation towards global vaccination efforts.
39 implied HN points β€’ 27 Nov 20
  1. Scaling up Covid-19 testing is crucial for returning to normalcy before widespread vaccine distribution.
  2. Implementing large-scale testing efforts requires a coordinated push similar to military operations and campus-wide testing strategies.
  3. Preparing for economy-wide frequent testing demands meticulous planning, infrastructure development, and preparedness on a national level.
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39 implied HN points β€’ 16 Sep 20
  1. The effectiveness of a COVID-19 vaccine may need to be higher than what regulatory bodies find acceptable in order to truly impact the course of the pandemic.
  2. Even with a vaccine that is 50% effective, wiping out the virus completely may be challenging, especially with lower vaccine coverage.
  3. Vaccines not only need to protect individuals from the virus but also prevent transmission to others, which can have a significant impact on overall disease spread.
39 implied HN points β€’ 04 Aug 20
  1. Tailored policies based on locality-specific data are crucial for effective Covid-19 management in different cities.
  2. Different US cities have unique network structures affecting the impact of various policies like work from home or essential work.
  3. Understanding city network structures and demographics can help predict policy outcomes, and this data remains relatively stable over time.
19 implied HN points β€’ 10 Mar 21
  1. Covid-19 was not truly a black swan event despite its extreme consequences, as a global pandemic was predictable based on historical precedent and scientific consensus.
  2. Several unexpected positive outcomes emerged during the pandemic, such as minimal surface transmission, limited spread outdoors, and the rapid development of effective vaccines.
  3. The pandemic's string of good luck should serve as a reminder of the unpredictability and potential severity of future global infectious disease events, urging caution and preparedness.
19 implied HN points β€’ 22 Feb 21
  1. Universities should plan for a Fall reopening based on forecasts of the pandemic and vaccination progress.
  2. It is reasonable to expect that Canada will reach its Summer vaccine goals, indicating potential for substantial improvement in the situation.
  3. Planning for a Fall reopening offers benefits of being prepared for a favorable outlook and maintaining option value, as opposed to planning to remain closed.
19 implied HN points β€’ 01 Feb 21
  1. Having a diversity of vaccines is beneficial to combat new variants and spread out efficacy.
  2. Market positioning for vaccines can help manage distribution and consumer preferences.
  3. Allocating different vaccines based on preferences, like offering the 'youthful' vaccine to the young, can help avoid a messy distribution process.
19 implied HN points β€’ 11 Jan 21
  1. The B.1.1.7 variant of SARS-CoV-2 is 50% more transmissible, likely spreading rapidly globally under several names, including 'UK Variant' and 'Supercovid.'
  2. B.1.1.7 mutations mainly affect the spike protein, raising concerns about vaccine efficacy. Current vaccines may still be effective, but wide distribution could lead to the virus evolving to evade immunity.
  3. B.1.1.7 is outcompeting other variants due to increased transmissibility rather than higher virulence, emphasizing the importance of maintaining mitigation efforts, particularly in high-risk settings, and ramping up testing to contain the spread.
19 implied HN points β€’ 21 Dec 20
  1. Covid-19 has forced businesses into experiments, pushing them to face changes they had been avoiding. For example, the movie industry is reevaluating its model post-pandemic.
  2. WarnerMedia is embarking on a disruptive experiment with HBO Max by releasing all 2021 movies on the platform. This move could reshape the industry.
  3. The movie industry is testing a new model by releasing films on streaming platforms first. The outcomes are uncertain but could lead to major shifts in how movies are distributed.
19 implied HN points β€’ 17 Dec 20
  1. The lack of information solutions during a family Covid-19 scare caused days of anxiety and uncertainty.
  2. Rapid testing and comprehensive information sharing could have greatly reduced worry and uncertainty during the crisis.
  3. Having access to quick and accurate testing results, along with better information systems, could have provided clarity and peace of mind in the situation.
19 implied HN points β€’ 02 Dec 20
  1. The UK Christmas bubble guidelines are complex and restrict gatherings to three households from December 23 to 27.
  2. The guidelines involve various rules on traveling, meeting indoors, and choosing regions with different COVID-19 prevalence levels for forming bubbles.
  3. The guidelines are convoluted, involving scenarios like forming different bubbles from your regular household and ensuring extra precautions within households.
19 implied HN points β€’ 23 Nov 20
  1. Achieving Covid-Zero, where there are no cases of Covid-19 in a region, is incredibly challenging due to human errors and misinformation.
  2. The story of South Australia's lockdown showcases how misunderstandings can lead to drastic measures, like a statewide lockdown.
  3. It's important to understand the human element in situations like these, emphasizing the need for education and empathy to encourage truth-telling and prevent similar errors.
19 implied HN points β€’ 13 Nov 20
  1. Vaccination aims to protect individuals from the virus as well as stop them from spreading it to others - this distinction is important for determining who should be vaccinated first.
  2. The effectiveness of a vaccine in preventing infection and transmission varies - some vaccines offer indirect protection by blocking transmission between people.
  3. It's crucial to understand how vaccines impact the spread of disease in communities - monitoring vaccinated individuals for contagiousness is essential, especially with imperfect vaccines.
19 implied HN points β€’ 21 Oct 20
  1. Consider testing at the desk instead of at the door to reduce operational challenges and costs, though it comes with the risk of letting infectious individuals into the space
  2. Testing at the desk may lead to fewer infections if it can be done more frequently than testing at the door, highlighting the importance of cost-benefit analysis in testing strategies
  3. Exploring various testing strategies, including combinations of at-the-door and at-the-desk testing, can provide a system with lower cost and less risk in managing infections
19 implied HN points β€’ 19 Oct 20
  1. Knowing the viral load of infected individuals can assist in understanding the infection's stage and progression.
  2. Ct scores from PCR tests can provide critical data for pinpointing viral infection cycles and determining treatment timing.
  3. Recording and utilizing Ct scores from widespread testing can help map virus dynamics at a population level and enhance understanding without relying solely on time series data.
19 implied HN points β€’ 14 Oct 20
  1. Economist Emily Oster created a dashboard to collect Covid-19 data from schools and childcare centers, providing valuable insights on cases and transmission rates.
  2. Preliminary findings suggest low infection rates in students and staff, indicating that schools may not be major drivers of outbreaks.
  3. The Ontario government is tracking cases in schools, but the data is basic compared to Oster's detailed framework, highlighting the need for more granular data to understand the impact of schools in the second wave.
19 implied HN points β€’ 12 Oct 20
  1. Management of mission-critical data should ensure robust systems to avoid errors like the UK Excel scandal.
  2. Having a unified data infrastructure for COVID-19 reporting across various testing venues is crucial for accurate data collection.
  3. Lessons from data management failures, such as the UK Excel error, underline the importance of investing in advanced data systems for efficient pandemic handling.
19 implied HN points β€’ 28 Sep 20
  1. Temperature checks can be a useful initial screening method for Covid-19, as fever is a common symptom among infected individuals.
  2. Precision and accuracy of temperature checks are crucial, as the specificity and prevalence can significantly impact the probability of having Covid-19.
  3. Human factors, like how people interpret and act on temperature readings, are important to consider when implementing screening measures.
19 implied HN points β€’ 25 Sep 20
  1. During the Covid-19 crisis, people reacted impressively quickly once they were aware of the seriousness of the situation, leading to a notable global response.
  2. Public health officials sometimes underestimate the public's ability to act sensibly with nuanced information, leading to overly prescriptive directives.
  3. The pandemic response was influenced by local experiences and the availability of information through the Internet and smartphones, which played a significant role in managing the crisis.
19 implied HN points β€’ 23 Sep 20
  1. Acting early against a virus like COVID-19 is crucial to keeping it under control. Waiting too long can make it much harder to contain.
  2. Experts, like public health officials, were aware of the seriousness of the situation regarding the virus well before certain key dates - like the Wuhan lockdown.
  3. In the early stages of a pandemic, personal risk assessments may not be adequate, and governments should be proactive in imposing restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus.
19 implied HN points β€’ 28 Aug 20
  1. Widespread frequent testing is crucial to quickly deal with Covid-19 and reduce economic pain. Challenges include the need for cheap, rapid tests and regulators changing their approach for pandemic mitigation.
  2. The new Abbott test is a $5 fast test authorized by the FDA, but is limited to use on symptomatic individuals. The test requires administration by healthcare providers, impacting its potential impact.
  3. Regulations can be changed to expand the use of tests like Abbott's which may be more valuable for identifying infectious individuals. The decision to limit the test to symptomatic use may hinder efforts to stop the virus spread.
19 implied HN points β€’ 26 Aug 20
  1. Wearables like Fitbit can potentially predict the onset of Covid-19 symptoms a day or two before they appear, offering a convenient monitoring method.
  2. Machine learning algorithms on wearable data can detect Covid-19 cases 1 day before symptoms start with about 21-29% accuracy, a significant advancement.
  3. Symptoms such as shortness of breath and vomiting are more likely to predict hospitalization due to Covid-19, while wearables offer continuous monitoring with broader implications for health management, especially during pandemics.
19 implied HN points β€’ 25 Aug 20
  1. A UK government study on coronavirus spread in schools showed low monthly rates of cases in students and staff.
  2. Precautions in schools included distancing and bubbles but typically did not require masks.
  3. Outbreaks in schools were correlated with regional incidence, with London notably having no outbreaks.
19 implied HN points β€’ 24 Aug 20
  1. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the challenges of grading students became pronounced, resulting in significant issues with assessment and grading strategies in educational institutions.
  2. The UK's Ofqual algorithm for adjusting predicted grades and translating them to final grades during the pandemic resulted in unfair outcomes, with significant disparities in grading and allocation of University places.
  3. Utilizing algorithms for student grading during crisis situations should incorporate considerations for bias and adjust predicted grades accordingly, to avoid harmful outcomes and ensure fair assessment.
19 implied HN points β€’ 14 Aug 20
  1. The Covid-19 pandemic may accelerate the move towards a paperless office, as people adapt to working digitally and without physical paperwork.
  2. Despite the decline in paper use, demand for wood pulp products, such as cardboard boxes for online deliveries, remains strong.
  3. The pandemic has forced organizations to transition away from paper processes, leading to a potential long-term shift towards digital alternatives.
19 implied HN points β€’ 11 Aug 20
  1. Using rotation in schools can help reduce Covid-19 spread by limiting exposure time, but its effectiveness depends on other interventions like mask-wearing and ventilation.
  2. The frequency of rotations impacts the potential number of infections in schools; rotating every other day can lead to fewer infections compared to longer rotation periods.
  3. Other interventions like mask-wearing and testing can complement rotation strategies, potentially reducing the need for frequent rotations and offering cost-effective solutions to managing contagion in schools.
19 implied HN points β€’ 05 Aug 20
  1. New research indicates that implementing better employment policies and creating staff bubbles in nursing homes can reduce Covid-19 outbreaks by 44%.
  2. Covid-19 spreads through contacts in nursing homes, amplified by staff moving between facilities; increasing network connections increases Covid cases significantly.
  3. Creating staff bubbles in nursing homes to eliminate inter-facility connections can potentially reduce infections by 44 per cent.
0 implied HN points β€’ 30 Sep 20
  1. Local outbreaks can be controlled with widespread testing and proper data transparency.
  2. Facing challenges with social distancing, universities and prisons have shown success in handling outbreaks through testing and transparency.
  3. Commitment to high data transparency is crucial in dealing with outbreaks and implementing effective testing strategies.
0 implied HN points β€’ 18 Sep 20
  1. Vaccines may have unintended consequences such as creating more health issues if not distributed carefully.
  2. There's a risk that a fast and widespread distribution of a 'leaky' vaccine could lead to the acceleration of virulence in viruses.
  3. It's crucial to thoroughly research and understand the potential risks associated with Covid-19 vaccines to avoid unexpected outcomes.
0 implied HN points β€’ 07 Oct 20
  1. When someone tests positive for Covid-19, it's important to trace their contacts to identify potential spread and find the source of infection - backward tracing can be especially useful.
  2. Frequent testing in places like schools can shift the focus from tracing contacts within the place to outside contacts, highlighting the value of backward tracing to prevent spread.
  3. Investing in apps for tracing outside contacts can be crucial as it may have higher impact than focusing only on contacts within a specific place.
0 implied HN points β€’ 11 Aug 21
  1. Regular COVID-19 screening in schools with active isolation and testing of contacts can be more effective than closures.
  2. Some regions are implementing vaccine passports for non-essential activities and in-person classes to control the spread of COVID-19.
  3. Enjoy the summer to build mental strength for potential disruptions in the Fall due to COVID-19.
0 implied HN points β€’ 09 Nov 20
  1. Public officials should be clear and truthful in their messaging to the public to build and maintain trust.
  2. Persuasion is key in encouraging people to take necessary actions, like wearing masks, especially when the public may be reluctant.
  3. In the absence of trusted information sources, misinformation can spread like a virus, impacting public health decisions and outcomes.
0 implied HN points β€’ 16 Dec 20
  1. Economists suggest using prices to address vaccine distribution issues. This includes charging for doses to signal demand and potentially paying individuals to take the vaccine.
  2. There is a proposal to pay individuals to receive the vaccine in order to address low demand. By offering subsidies, it can help close the gap in vaccination rates.
  3. Balancing the approach between paying for priority in vaccine distribution and paying individuals to get vaccinated presents challenges. Complexity arises when trying to incorporate financial incentives into the vaccination process.