Fast response to superspreading: Uncertainty and complexity in the context of COVID-19

Lukas Zenk, Gerald Steiner, Miguel Pina E Cunha, Manfred D. Laubichler, Martin Bertau, Martin J. Kainz, Carlo Jäger, Eva S. Schernhammer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Although the first coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) wave has peaked with the second wave underway, the world is still struggling to manage potential systemic risks and unpredictability of the pandemic. A particular challenge is the “superspreading” of the virus, which starts abruptly, is difficult to predict, and can quickly escalate into medical and socio-economic emergencies that contribute to long-lasting crises challenging our current ways of life. In these uncertain times, organizations and societies worldwide are faced with the need to develop appropriate strategies and intervention portfolios that require fast understanding of the complex interdependencies in our world and rapid, flexible action to contain the spread of the virus as quickly as possible, thus preventing further disastrous consequences of the pandemic. We integrate perspectives from systems sciences, epidemiology, biology, social networks, and organizational research in the context of the superspreading phenomenon to understand the complex system of COVID-19 pandemic and develop suggestions for interventions aimed at rapid responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7884
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • COVID-19
  • Complex systems
  • Fast response
  • Improvisation
  • Interdisciplinary perspectives
  • Networks
  • Pandemic
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Superspreading
  • Transdisciplinarity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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