Responding to COVID-19: What we (should have) learned from SARS

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global event that for more than a year now has completed transformed nearly every aspect of our day-to-day lives.

For most of us, the pandemic is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced, with comparisons frequently made to the Spanish Influenza outbreak more than a century ago.

But in certain parts of the world, the potential danger presented by the coronavirus was identified and responded too far earlier than in others. And it wasn’t only government officials and decision-makers sharing these realizations, but average people, like you and me.

My guest for today’s episode is Hong Ru, professor with Nanyang Technological University.  Along with his fellow study authors, Hong identified a shared experience that enabled certain countries to recognize and respond to the significant danger of the coronavirus threat earlier than others.

This study, “Combatting the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Role of the SARS Imprint,” which will be published later this year in the INFORMS journal Management Science, investigates how previous experience with the 2003 SARS outbreak led to a quicker response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

People often have this behavior bias to tend to pay less attention or even neglect the risks for certain things they have never experienced before. And as many experts say these days, we’re going to have another pandemic or epidemic in the future (hopefully not). Or for some other issues such as climate change, or even for this pandemic, we are not completely out of the woods yet.

Interviewed this episode:

Hong Ru

Nanyang Technological University

Dr. Hong Ru joined Nanyang Business School in NTU as an Assistant Professor of Banking & Finance division in 2015. His research interests include financial intermediary, Chinese economy, corporate finance, and household finance. Dr. Ru’s researches have been published at top academic journals including Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Economics, Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Review of Finance, and Management Science. Dr. Ru also presented his researches at many conferences including AFA, EFA, NBER, SFS Cavalcade, and received best paper awards and research excellence award multiple times. His researches have been widely covered by media, such as INFORMS Resoundingly Human, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Strait Times, China Daily, NBER Digest, and ABFER Digest. Dr. Ru is also the research director of the Centre of Excellence International Trading (CEIT) in NTU and was the research director of the Centre for RMB Internalisation Studies (CRIS) in NTU. Dr. Ru received his Ph.D. in finance from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 2015.