The simulation “event 201” and the recommendations given by experts in October 2019 in the face of a global pandemic
The situation we are experiencing was being analysed by experts some time ago. The conclusions of their analyses and studies are within our reach thanks to the new technologies, the fact that the conferences are available through the network, and the documents where the data, the forecasts and, above all, the proposals to be able to face a situation like the one we are living, are also available.
Below, you will find information on events, conferences and reports that explain the risks and possibilities of solving a global pandemic like the one we have right now.
In October 2019, the “201 event” was held in New York. The staging of a series of pandemic simulations based on different possible scenarios with the aim of responding and anticipating to address solutions in a global manner.
Fifteen world experts in the fields of business, government and public health gathered there to participate in the simulation of a scenario very similar to the one we are experiencing today. They analyzed how everything could begin, how it would evolve and how it could be resolved with political will, financial investment, information and the conviction of society.
The event was organized by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the World Economic Forum, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The name “event 201” refers to a severe pandemic that would require cooperation between various industries, national governments and key international institutions.
In their presentation, they explained that studies at the time showed that pandemics would cause an annual economic loss of 0.7% of global GDP, some $570 billion on average. In order to address this, the experts recommended the need for cooperation between industry, national governments, key international institutions and civil society.
They announced then that “the next severe pandemic will not only cause major illness and loss of life, but could also trigger major cascading economic and social consequences that could greatly contribute to global impact and suffering. The “event 201” pandemic exercise vividly demonstrated some of these important gaps in pandemic preparedness, as well as some of the elements of the public-private solutions that will be needed to fill them.
The event was attended by 130 people. However, you can retrieve the lectures and see it again here: (you can turn on the subtitles in the options provided in the video)
What is the “Event 201” simulation
Event 201 simulates an outbreak of a new zoonotic coronavirus transmitted from bats to pigs to humans that eventually becomes efficiently transmissible from person to person, leading to a severe pandemic. The pathogen and the disease it causes are largely based on SARS, but it is more transmissible in the community by people with mild symptoms.
The disease begins on pig farms in Brazil, quietly and slowly at first, but then begins to spread more rapidly in health care settings. When it begins to spread efficiently from person to person in the low-income, densely populated neighbourhoods of some of South America’s mega-cities, the epidemic explodes. It is first exported by air to Portugal, the United States and China and then to many other countries. Although some countries can control it at first, it continues to spread and reintroduce itself, and eventually no country can maintain control.
There is no possibility that a vaccine will be available in the first year. There is a dummy antiviral drug that can help the sick but not significantly limit the spread of the disease.
Since the entire human population is susceptible, during the first months of the pandemic, the cumulative number of cases increases exponentially, doubling every week. And as cases and deaths mount, the economic and social consequences become increasingly severe.
The scenario ends at 18 months with 65 million deaths. At that point the pandemic begins to wane as the number of susceptible people drops. The pandemic will continue until there is an effective vaccine or until 80-90% of the world’s population has been exposed. Thereafter, it is likely to be an endemic childhood disease.
Experts’ conclusions and recommendations
According to the report following “Event 201”, efforts to avoid devastating consequences will require unprecedented levels of collaboration between governments, international organizations and the private sector. They drew attention to the large global vulnerabilities that were not covered and emphasized the challenges of the international system. The key is public sector cooperation with private industry.
The exercise on the pandemic “event 201” showed, according to experts, that some of these existing gaps would require public-private cooperation to meet the great challenge of the pandemic we are experiencing today. The specific recommendations were the following
Governments, international organizations and businesses must plan how essential corporate capabilities will be used during a large-scale pandemic.
Already at that time, October 19, it was noted that “during a severe pandemic, public sector efforts to control the outbreak are likely to be overwhelmed. But industry assets, they said, if implemented quickly and properly, could help save lives and reduce economic losses.
They cited as examples the need for companies with operations focused on logistics, social networks or distribution systems to enable government emergency response, risk communication and medical countermeasure distribution efforts during the pandemic.
It includes working together to ensure that strategic products are available and accessible for public health response.
Contingency planning for a potential operational partnership between government and business will be difficult and complex, they announced, with many legal and organizational details to address. Governments should work (they said at the time) to identify the most critical areas of need and reach out to industry players with the goal of finalizing agreements before the next major pandemic. In this sense, as far as we can see, we are late, since it is now that the approaches between the private and public medical industry, among other issues, are beginning to be made in our country.
The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, they said, would be well positioned to help coordinate and direct the efforts of governments, international organizations and businesses, pointing out where they should focus their energies to respond effectively to a pandemic.
Industry, national governments and international organizations should work together to improve the development of internationally sustained medical countermeasures to enable rapid and equitable distribution during a severe pandemic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has a virtual arsenal of “influenza” vaccines, with contracts in place with pharmaceutical companies that have agreed to supply vaccines if requested by the WHO.
This virtual model, they say, could be expanded to increase WHO’s ability to distribute vaccines and therapeutic products to countries with the greatest need during a severe pandemic. This should also include making experimental vaccines available for any pathogens in the WHO R&D plan to develop a clinical trial during specific outbreaks, they explained.
During a catastrophic outbreak, they said, countries may be reluctant to part with scarce medical resources. For this reason, having a strong international stockpile could help ensure that everyone has access to needed resources. Countries that have the capacity to create to a large extent should commit to being able to donate some of their production to those who do not have that capacity.
3.- Countries, international organizations and global transport companies should work together to maintain travel and trade during pandemics. Travel and trade are essential to the global economy as well as to national and even local economies and should be kept active even during a pandemic.
The report noted that better decision-making, coordination and communication between the public and private sectors will be needed regarding risk, travel warnings, import and export restrictions and border measures.
Fear and uncertainty, they said, has sometimes led to unjustified border measures, closing customer-oriented businesses, import bans and cancellation of airline flights, as well as international shipments. This was what was being said at the time of the report and now that we are experiencing what is happening with the coronavirus, we see that exactly these errors that were already being reported are occurring.
The report said that a particularly rapid and lethal pandemic “could result in policy decisions to slow or stop the movement of people and goods, which could damage economies that are already vulnerable to an outbreak. Health ministries and other government agencies should now work together with international airlines and global shipping companies to develop realistic response scenarios and begin a process of contingency planning to mitigate economic damage by maintaining key travel and trade routes during a large-scale pandemic. Supporting continued trade and travel in such an extreme circumstance may require the provision of improved disease control measures and personal protective equipment for transport workers, government subsidies to support critical trade routes, and protection from potential liability in certain cases. International organizations such as the WHO, the International Air Transport Association, and the International Civil Aviation Organization should be partners in these preparedness and response efforts.
Governments should provide more resources and support for the development and manufacture of vaccines, therapies and diagnostics that will be needed during a severe pandemic
The report noted that in the event of a severe pandemic, countries may need population-level supplies of safe and effective medical countermeasures, including vaccines, therapies and diagnostics. Therefore, the capacity to develop, manufacture, distribute and rapidly dispense large quantities of material will be needed to contain and control a global outbreak.
Countries with sufficient resources should significantly increase this capacity, they said. In coordination with international institutions and agencies, as well as relevant multilateral and national mechanisms, they should invest in new technologies and industrial approaches that will enable the manufacture of the necessary material. To this end, they recommended that they should prepare themselves in the development of legislation for the specific case.
5.- Global companies should recognize the economic burden of pandemics and fight to be better prepared
In addition to investing more in preparing their own businesses and industries, business leaders and their shareholders should actively engage with governments and advocate for increased resources for pandemic preparedness, the report warned.
Globally, there has been a lack of attention and investment in preparedness for high-impact pandemics, and businesses are largely absent from the efforts that need to be made.
This is due to a lack of awareness of the business risks posed by a pandemic. Tools must be built to help large private sector companies visualize the commercial risks posed by infectious diseases and ways to mitigate risk through public-private cooperation to strengthen preparedness. A severe pandemic would greatly interfere with global health, business operations and the movement of goods and services, they warned.
6. International organizations should prioritize the reduction of the economic impacts of epidemics and pandemics
The report noted that much of the economic damage that would be caused by a pandemic would likely be due to counterproductive behaviour by individuals, companies and countries. They gave the example of interrupting travel, trade or changing consumer behaviour as it is happening.
They recommended increased and reassessed financial support for a severe pandemic, as many sectors of society would need this injection during and after the pandemic. They already warned in the report that it would be necessary to identify the critical nodes in the banking system and the global and national economies, which are so necessary and essential that they cannot be allowed to fall apart. They pointed to the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund, regional development banks, national governments, foundations, among others, as actors who should explore ways to increase the amount and availability of funding in the face of a pandemic.
7. Governments and the private sector should give higher priority to developing methods to combat misinformation and misinformation before the next pandemic response.
Already at this time, the report recommended that governments should partner with traditional and social networking companies to research and develop agile approaches to countering misinformation.
They announced that this will require developing the capacity to flood the media with fast, accurate, and conscious information.
The original document on the recommendations can be read here.
Bill Gates Conference in 2015
As we can see, all these recommendations existed, they were on the table a few months ago. And this conference was attended by the World Economic Forum, among other organizations. So there was already a road map for what started a couple of months later.
But much earlier, there was an alert, and it is worth looking back at this short conference by Bill Gates in 2015, when he warned that countries were preparing for nuclear wars, investing in weapons, and yet investing in health research and development was not being done in a robust way. It is interesting to see how Gates was already pointing to the need for investment in health, pointing to the fact that future “wars” would be biological, that they could devastate large populations and that governments had to invest in this area.