COVID-19 Pandemic – A Systems Thinking Approach

34 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2021

See all articles by Patrick J. McConnell

Patrick J. McConnell

Macquarie University, Applied Finance Centre

Date Written: July 12, 2021


This paper argues that the Covid-19 Pandemic is not merely a Health issue, but a much wider, highly complex, very dangerous phenomenon that requires a multi-disciplinary approach to tackle and needs taking a ‘big picture’ perspective, here using a ‘Systems Thinking’ approach.

First, the paper provides a short overview of ‘Systems Thinking’ approach to problem-solving and particularly, the importance of the concepts of Positive and Negative Feedbacks. Using a Systems Thinking approach, the paper then describes, what is called here, the ‘Pandemic Vicious Circle’ identifying key Drivers of the Covid-19 Pandemic throughout the community. It then describes key Interventions that attempt to slow the progress of the SARS-COV-2 and describes how Positive Feedbacks, such as Increased Illness, accelerated the damage caused by the Pandemic while Negative Feedbacks, such as Mass Lockdowns, slowed down its progress. The paper also identifies the importance of ‘Time’ as a key Driver of the overall damage caused by the Pandemic.

The paper then considers the Pandemic Vicious Circle from the perspectives of three key disciplines: Health, Politics and the Economy, identifying the critical Drivers and Interventions that impact the progress of the pandemic. Finally, the paper describes a Framework for using Systems Thinking to consider how to manage a Pandemic and proposes further research.

Funding: None to declare.

Declaration of Interests: None to declare.

Keywords: Covid-19, Systems Thinking, Positive Feedback, Negative Feedback, Operational Risk

JEL Classification: I10, G01

Suggested Citation

McConnell, Patrick J., COVID-19 Pandemic – A Systems Thinking Approach (July 12, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Patrick J. McConnell (Contact Author)

Macquarie University, Applied Finance Centre ( email )

New South Wales 2109

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