We Had Every Reason to Be Prepared for This Pandemic
Time and time again, experts foretold of a coronavirus-type outbreak
On a Friday morning last October, 15 international key figures in business, government, and public health assembled at the luxurious New York Pierre Hotel. At least 130 people came to watch the 3.5-hour event put on by The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the World Economic Forum, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The participants were asked to debate, form a strategy, discuss possible outcomes, tackle challenges, and find solutions all based on a scripted, imaginary scenario. Yawn, right? Well, not quite. For “Event 201,” the scenario that was chosen started with a fake news bulletin that went something like this: “a new and unknown disease, modeled largely on SARS, is causing a worldwide pandemic. It originated by bats, transmitted to pigs, and then humans. There’s no vaccine, no drug, the human population is all susceptible.” The made-up — yes, made-up — scenario ends a year and a half after the initial outbreak, with 65 million casualties and a devastating effect on the economy.
Writing, meet the wall
The existing volume of literature, texts, articles, and research warning against a flu-like virus that would have a devastating effect on the respiratory system and would spread quickly throughout the world is shocking.
In 2012, Rand Corporation published research entitled “Threats Without Threateners?” in which they looked at three potential world threats not necessarily set into motion by a human hand. Of the three (climate change, water scarcity, and pandemics), the loudest alarm surfaced from the potential harm a pandemic might cause in the near future.
In 2013, the Senate Intelligence Committee published the worldwide threat assessment paper. Within the 34-page document sits an alarming prediction: “An easily transmissible, novel respiratory pathogen that kills or incapacitates more than 1% of its victims is among the most disruptive events possible. Such an outbreak would result in a global pandemic that causes suffering and death in every corner of the world, probably in fewer than six months. This is not a…