December 2023

A Playbook for the Next Pandemic

An interview with Monica Gandhi

The Heart Issue

As early as April 2020, infectious diseases specialist Monica Gandhi, MD ’95, knew that COVID-19 would become endemic — that is, it would never be eradicated. Instead, she argued, it was time to get the virus that causes the disease under control and learn to live with it.  

This viewpoint was informed by decades of working with HIV patients at UCSF and San Francisco General Hospital, where Gandhi is a professor of medicine and associate division chief of the Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine. And it made her an outspoken critic of disruptive COVID policies — particularly the closing of schools — that she argued caused more harm than good. 

Consensus is emerging to back up many of Gandhi’s once-controversial points. But before the medical community and policymakers move on, Gandhi argues, it’s important to take stock of the hits and misses to build a roadmap for the future.  

That’s what she offers in Endemic: A Post-Pandemic Playbook. Weaving together insights from both HIV and COVID-19, Gandhi outlines a ten-point policy rubric for responding to future epidemics. She discusses how policymakers can minimize threats to public health while also mitigating the harms of restrictive policies on children and on marginalized groups. 

Harvard Medicine speaks with Gandhi about Endemic in this episode of The Written Word. 


Read the full transcript


Author reading 

In this excerpt, Gandhi describes how marginalized communities disproportionately suffer not only from infectious diseases, but also from the side effects of policies that aim to contain their spread.   


 Read the full transcript


Adapted from Endemic: A Post-Pandemic Playbook by Monica Gandhi, published by Mayo Clinic Press. Copyright 2023 Mayo Clinic Press.