Just a few months before the Covid-19 outbreak, an exercise was held by world elites called Event 201, where they simulated a global pandemic of a coronavirus that transmitted from bats to humans. Taking place in October, the event was hosted by Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Bloomberg School Of Public Health, World Economic Forum, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The simulation analyzed the health impacts, as well as the economic, lifestyle, and trade fallout from the virus.
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.
The Center For Health Security YouTube channel posted several videos from the event, which they tab as “Event 201, A Global Pandemic Exercise”
On October 16th, 2019, Bloomberg news posted:
Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, World Economic Forum and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Host Pandemic Exercise and Livestream Underscoring immediate need for global public-private cooperation to mitigate severe world-wide economic and societal impacts of pandemics Business Wire NEW YORK -- October 16, 2019 The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, with the World Economic Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will host Event 201, a multimedia global pandemic exercise on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019, in New York City. The public may register and participate in the simultaneous virtual exercise in English, 8:50 a.m.-12:30 p.m. EDT at centerforhealthsecurity.org/event201/. The exercise underscores the need for global public-private cooperation to mitigate economic and societal impacts of severe pandemics. In recent years, the world has seen a growing number of epidemic events, about 200 per year, which strain limited resources. A large global pandemic would be disruptive to health, economies, and society. Economic studies show that pandemics could be the cause of an average annual economic loss of 0.7% of global GDP—or $570 billion. Event 201, played by 15 leaders of businesses, governments, and public health, will illustrate realistic policy problems that must be addressed under pressure during a pandemic. At the video-driven exercise, players will be presented with a scenario that reveals unresolved and controversial policy and economic issues that could be solved with sufficient political will, financial investment, and attention. “In addition to challenging health and health systems, pandemics can cause severe cascading economic and societal consequences,” said Tom Inglesby, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Neither governments nor private industries alone can adequately respond to a severe pandemic; they must work together. We’ve designed Event 201 to engage leaders in compelling ways to help them understand the decisions needed to prepare for and respond to biological threats.” “Outbreaks of infectious disease are inevitable, but the economic damage they cause is not,” said Ryan Morhard, project lead for Global Health Security at the World Economic Forum. “Sustained attention from a broad multistakeholder coalition is needed in advance of a severe pandemic to save lives and minimize economic and societal consequences.” Chris Elias, president of global development at the Gates Foundation, noted that “Event 201 and its predecessor simulations like Clade X are crucial tools to understand not only what is needed to effectively respond to global public health crises, but also the consequences of what happens when we are not prepared.” The exercise is supported by funding from the Open Philanthropy Project. More information is at centerforhealthsecurity.org/event201, #Event201, @JHSPH_CHS, @wef and @gatesfoundation. EVENT 201 IS A FICTIONAL EXERCISE AND DISEASE Editor’s note: RSVP for a confirmed seat, information about camera and recording limitations; access same day to video, graphics, audio, photos and interviews. See Event 201media advisory and other materials
Other media reported on the event, such as Forbes, and concluded that the public was not ready for such an outbreak.