Coronavirus: The “Four Riders” of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Coronavirus pandemic an expression of global undesirable developments?

While everything is currently about coping with the corona crisis, researchers at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) are already looking into the future and are warning that the rapid global spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is only an expression could be the weaknesses of our social system. Overpopulation, globalization, hyper-connectivity and the global supply chains can be named as "four tabs" of such disasters

"It is clear that we must give priority to identifying and correcting the conditions that have made the Covid 19 pandemic possible," the researchers emphasize. This raises the question of whether it is a kind of symptom, the basis of which is an "increasingly fragile, volatile, hyper-connected world". Kang Hao Cheong and Michael C. Jones from SUTD published their considerations in the specialist magazine "BioEssays".

Critical pathologies revealed

"The Covid-19 pandemic has uncovered critical pathologies lurking in the dynamic global system of trade, governance and public health," Cheong said in a SUTD press release. "Even if Covid-19 is not the immediate cause of a global catastrophe this time, it is a blow that worries us so much that we become aware that we are sailing in a dangerous ocean that is increasingly crowded with icebergs," added Jones .

Impending unprecedented disaster

It is becoming clear that a pandemic such as COVID-19 can quickly metastasize into other important areas such as economic and geopolitical stability, and that further multiplicative effects of the second and third order develop, which in the worst case can turn into an unprecedented catastrophe, the researchers report .

Disaster as an inevitable endpoint

In addition, measures such as the extremely extensive financial rescue measures that are supposed to prevent the ruin caused by Covid-19 may exacerbate the problem under the increasingly complex and chaotic conditions. A chain of follow-up problems threatens to the point where catastrophic failure is practically inevitable. “From a decision-making point of view, the catastrophe, as long as the framework remains unchanged, should be seen as an inevitable end point from the point of view of nonlinear dynamics,” concluded the two scientists.

Approaches in sight

But a “correct understanding of this explosive risk landscape also points to a solution,” said Cheong and Jones. This is due to a massive change in the global course on the basis of the precautionary principle and on the basis of biological principles. The researchers emphasize that biological theory and complexity science will play an important role in the paradigmatic changes that are required to defuse the time bomb.

Drastic changes required

"We will have to build sustainable social institutions and behaviors that imitate life, rather than systems that defy the principles of the living system," Jones said. In view of the time after the Corona crisis, drastic changes in the economic and social system are necessary to avoid the potential self-destruction of mankind, in which a pandemic is only one of many possible triggers. (fp)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters


  • Kang Hao Cheong, Michael C. Jones: Introducing the 21st Century's New Four Horsemen of the Coronapocalypse (published March 30th, 2020),
  • Singapore University of Technology and Design: The four horsemen of the COVID-19 pandemic (published April 6th, 2020,

Video: George W. Bush warned of not preparing for pandemic in 2005. ABC News (January 2022).