From SARS to COVID-19: Are We Learning the Right Lessons?

A new ANSER–IIGR publication uses systems thinking to investigate how six countries’ experiences with SARS shaped their COVID-19 responses, and how we can finally conquer the pandemic

Falls Church, VA., January 11, 2022

A new coronavirus virus emerges in China, causing sicknesses and death across the globe. But the year isn’t 2019—it’s 2003. When SARS caused 8,098 cases and 774 deaths in 30 countries, it forced some nations to completely rethink their approaches to public health emergencies. In a new publication, ANSER and the International Institute for Global Resilience (IIGR) challenge international emergency management experts to tell us: Did Lessons Learned from SARS Save Us from COVID-19?

Six case studies take the reader through the experiences of SARS-affected countries (China, Singapore, Canada, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the United States) both then and now, outlining the changes made between pandemics and how those changes helped or hindered response to COVID-19. Primary author Frances Veasey also goes further to help the reader tease out root causes and influential dynamics using the “iceberg model”—a systems thinking tool that looks under the surface—to understand the contextual factors, structures, and mental models that underlie countries’ successes and failures.

This groundbreaking document blends real-world experiences with systems thinking approaches to explore the challenges a pandemic of this level presents, while at the same time examining why these challenges occur and providing legitimate means to mitigate them. Its insights are applicable to any worldwide crisis response, not just pandemics.

Sponsorship was also provided by the Global Social Entrepreneurship Endowed Chairs, Graduate School of Management, Kyoto University, and the Sachiko Kuno Foundation.


About Analytic Services, Inc. (ANSER)

ANSER was founded in 1958 as a public service research institute organized as a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to informing decisions that shape the nation’s future. We provide program management and objective studies and analyses to the national security, homeland security, and public policy communities.  ANSER also builds and leads technology development collaborations through its subsidiary, Advanced Technology International (ATI), specializing in organizing and managing research and development consortia on behalf of the federal government. ANSER’s headquarters is in Falls Church, Virginia and has offices in Colorado Springs, Colorado and Belcamp, Maryland. For more information visit: