If the seeds of a pandemic disease were planted tomorrow, how would the world go? According to a simulation done by Johns Hopkins University on Friday, the answer is awful.
In a hotel near New York's Central Park, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security hosted a pandemic exercise called 201 . 15 public health and government and industry leaders sought to find the best course of action when a terrible pandemic made its way around the globe. The simulation was populated with expert information and news updates from the fictitious GNN with talking head segments.
The pandemic was modeled after real close-up discussions. The fictional plague was a coronavirus associated with the germs that cause SARS and MERS, which first spread to farm workers from pigs in South America. But in contrast to his relatives, the so-called virus, the so-called CAPS or the acute lung syndrome of the coronavirus, could be better transmitted from person to person.
"Once a severe pandemic sets in, the result is unaffected."
"This virus was essentially SARS for steroids," said Eric Toner, Senior Scientist at the Center for Health Security and Project Der Director of Event 201 told Gizmodo:
Although the assembled experts had the opportunity to give advice and recommendations on how to turn the tide against CAPS, the simulation was more like a hopeless boss fight in a video game.
] In the first few months, CAPS spread to several countries, supported by international travel and the fact that, as with many real-life diseases, not all people infected with the virus became ill and others showed only mild flu-like symptoms . While raging in poorer and richer countries alike, governments and experts were struggling over where money and resources, including experimental antiviral drugs, should be provided. Social media media has also fueled the flames by allowing trolls and even governments to spread misinformation about the CAP, blaming foreigners, for example, on the problem. This in turn made it even more unlikely that people trust public health professionals.
"Recent outbreaks such as Ebola are currently seeing social media playing a big positive and negative role," said Toner. "It's how many people receive their messages, but it's also how rumors and misinformation are spread."
In contrast to the catastrophic outbreaks presented by zombie films, the death toll from CAPS was only 10 percent. But because it was so easy to transmit and widespread, the exercise still ended with 65 million deaths worldwide – a number that would eclipse the hitherto most deadly pandemic, the 1918 Spanish flu, which killed over 20 million people , In addition to the sheer number of people who are sick or dead, CAPS has gutted the global economy. People refused to leave their homes or go to work. In some parts of the world, travel and the Internet have been closed, and the tourism industry has been scratching.
"There is almost no chance that a true pandemic would wipe out humanity. But it could wipe out 5 to 10 percent of humanity – and that's a number and impact far greater than you would imagine, "said Toner.
According to Johns Hopkins, the exercise should illustrate how destructive an absolutely plausible pandemic can be and how poorly we are currently able to respond to it. By the time something like CAPS strikes, we have already lost half the battle.
"There was nothing the players could have done in this exercise because we believe this is the reality." As soon as a serious pandemic sets in, the result will not be significantly affected by anything you do. The real work is between now and the next pandemic, "said Toner. "Public health experts have been talking about preparing for pandemics for decades, but most of the resources will come from the private sector – the medicines, the vaccines, the planes to transport them. And we do not believe that you are sufficiently prepared. "
Governments, companies and public health organizations are currently working together to develop plans to tackle a major pandemic and increase resources for pandemic preparedness. These plans would include how protective equipment and other medical supplies can be stored and distributed on a large scale; find the best way to keep travel stable and safe; and short-circuit attempts by bad actors to spread rumors in social media.