EVENT 201 The Coronavirus High-Level Pandemic Simulation 2019
Is this all just a coincidence, or was the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic planned and executed by a few world governments? Read the information below and watch the Event 201 video at the end of the article.
Statement about nCoV and the 2019 Pandemic Exercise
In October 2019, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security hosted a pandemic tabletop exercise called Event 201 with partners, the World Economic Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Recently, the Center for Health Security has received questions about whether the pandemic exercise predicted the current novel coronavirus outbreak in China.
To be clear, the Center for Health Security and partners did not make a prediction during our tabletop exercise. For the scenario, we modeled a fictional coronavirus pandemic, but we explicitly stated that it was not a prediction. Instead, the exercise served to highlight preparedness and response challenges that would likely arise in a very severe pandemic. We are not now predicting that the nCoV-2019 outbreak will kill 65 million people.
Although our tabletop exercise included a mock novel coronavirus, the inputs we used for modeling the potential impact of that fictional virus are not similar to nCoV-2019.
The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted Event 201, a high-level pandemic exercise on October 18, 2019, in New York, NY.
The exercise illustrated areas where public/private partnerships will be necessary during the response to a severe pandemic in order to diminish large-scale economic and societal consequences.
In recent years, the world has seen a growing number of epidemic events, amounting to approximately 200 events annually. These events are increasing, and they are disruptive to health, economies, and society. Managing these events already strains global capacity, even absent a pandemic threat.
Experts agree that it is only a matter of time before one of these epidemics becomes global—a pandemic with potentially catastrophic consequences. A severe pandemic, which becomes “Event 201,” would require reliable cooperation among several industries, national governments, and key international institutions.
The novel coronavirus outbreak has caught the U.S. and the world off guard and now threatens to break through all containment efforts. But far from being a surprise, the potential pandemic was utterly predictable, as scientists have long warned.
The big picture: The world had its chance to prepare. We failed — and now we’ll pay the price.
Flashback: Last October the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (JHCHS) put on a high-level pandemic simulation focusing on a fictional global outbreak caused by a novel coronavirus that spilled over from animals to humans.
- Called Event 201, the exercise brought together policymakers and disease experts to debate how they would respond to the simulated pandemic, in an effort to map out how they could combat a real one.
Along with other reporters, I was there to observe the proceedings. What happened during the fictional pandemic eerily presaged the challenges and conundrums the world is facing with COVID-19.
- Governments agonized about whether to ban public gatherings and block travel from infected areas.
- Misinformation — accidental and deliberate — spread over social media, and participants in the exercise struggled to control messaging.
- The economic effects of attempts to control the pandemic were as devastating as the disease itself, a dilemma compounded by the fact that participants had to make vital decisions with imperfect information about the virus—just as officials must do today.
The final results of the Event 201 simulation were horrific, with 65 million people dying in the exercise.
Why it matters: There’s no way of knowing yet whether COVID-19 can cause damage on anything close to that scale. But Event 201 and other predictions about the rising threat from new infectious disease gave us plenty of warning about what the world is facing today.
- Despite that, in the years before the coronavirus outbreak, the Trump White House dismantled the National Security Council’s global health security unit and drastically cut the CDC’s global health section.
- Local health departments lost more than 55,000 workers between 2008 and 2018, according to the Trust for America’s Health.
- “There are major global vulnerabilities and challenges in pandemic preparedness and it will require collaboration between global business, governments, and international organizations to address them,” said Tom Inglesby, director of JHCHS.
If the current coronavirus can’t be contained, the world will fall back on mitigation. But few countries are adequately prepared for what would come next — including the U.S.
- Problems with tests have slowed the diagnosis of suspected cases in the U.S., giving the virus time to gain a foothold.
- HHS official Robert Kadlec told a Senate hearing on March 2 that the U.S. had just 10% of the respiratory masks needed to combat a “full-blown” pandemic.
- “At this point, it’s tricky to think that this will be kept from becoming endemic,” said Jonathan Quick, a former WHO official and the author of The End of Epidemics.
The bottom line: Too often our response to public health disaster cycles between “crisis and complacency,” in the words of a 2019 report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But we can see these catastrophes coming all too well.