Folks, there is no possible way this is a coincidence. None. This is quite possibly the largest crime against humanity and crime against peace in human history, and the full consequences of it haven’t even begun to be manifested.
The next severe pandemic will not only cause great illness and loss of life but could also trigger major cascading economic and societal consequences that could contribute greatly to global impact and suffering. The Event 201 pandemic exercise, conducted on October 18, 2019, vividly demonstrated a number of these important gaps in pandemic preparedness as well as some of the elements of the solutions between the public and private sectors that will be needed to fill them. The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, World Economic Forum, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation jointly propose these recommendations.
Friday, October 18, 2019
8:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
The Pierre hotel
New York, NY
An invitation-only audience of nearly 130 people attended the exercises, and a livestream of the event was available to everyone. Video coverage is available here.
Eric Toner, MD, is the exercise team lead from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Crystal Watson, DrPH, MPH and Tara Kirk Sell, PhD, MA are co-leads from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Ryan Morhard, JD, is the exercise lead from the World Economic Forum, and Jeffrey French is the exercise lead for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Exercise team members are Tom Inglesby, MD; Anita Cicero, JD; Randy Larsen, USAF (retired); Caitlin Rivers, PhD, MPH; Diane Meyer, RN, MPH; Matthew Shearer, MPH; Matthew Watson; Richard Bruns, PhD; Jackie Fox; Andrea Lapp; Margaret Miller; Carol Miller; and Julia Cizek.
Event 201 was supported by funding from the Open Philanthropy Project.
The Event 201 scenario
Event 201 simulates an outbreak of a novel zoonotic coronavirus transmitted from bats to pigs to people that eventually becomes efficiently transmissible from person to person, leading to a severe pandemic. The pathogen and the disease it causes are modeled largely on SARS, but it is more transmissible in the community setting by people with mild symptoms.
The disease starts in pig farms in Brazil, quietly and slowly at first, but then it starts to spread more rapidly in healthcare settings. When it starts to spread efficiently from person to person in the low-income, densely packed neighborhoods of some of the megacities in South America, the epidemic explodes. It is first exported by air travel to Portugal, the United States, and China and then to many other countries. Although at first some countries are able to control it, it continues to spread and be reintroduced, and eventually no country can maintain control.
There is no possibility of a vaccine being available in the first year. There is a fictional antiviral drug that can help the sick but not significantly limit spread of the disease.
Since the whole human population is susceptible, during the initial months of the pandemic, the cumulative number of cases increases exponentially, doubling every week. And as the cases and deaths accumulate, the economic and societal consequences become increasingly severe.
The scenario ends at the 18-month point, with 65 million deaths. The pandemic is beginning to slow due to the decreasing number of susceptible people. The pandemic will continue at some rate until there is an effective vaccine or until 80-90 % of the global population has been exposed. From that point on, it is likely to be an endemic childhood disease.
Thank you to members of the press that attended Event 201. There are opportunities for those that missed it to view a video of the exercise online now, and to use materials posted on this page to share the insights of leaders of business and industry, governments, and global health about why pandemic preparedness collaboration among private businesses with the public sector is so critically important at this time.
Recommendations issued by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are available here.