The Wuhan Coronavirus - The Event 201 simulation

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In October 2019, approximately three-or-so months ago, a high-level seminar took place in New York. The seminar was sponsored by The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It was clearly a top-level event. Michael Ryan, from the World Health Organisation, gave an introductory speech. The purpose of the seminar was to simulate a global pandemic. A panel of fifteen senior people would discuss how best to deal with the pandemic. The four-hour seminar was split into sessions, each one simulating a meeting at three-month intervals during the pandemic. Each session began with an update on the virus's spread and expert advice on the options available to the committee. Full details of the event are still available on The Event 201 website. There is also a helpful Telegraph article describing Event 201, along with a Telegraph article describing the fictional coronavirus used in the simulation.

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Here is the first session of Event 201, as a YouTube video:



There are several interesting elements to the Event 201 global pandemic exercise, in light of the growing Wuhan coronavirus epidemic. Firstly, Event 201 was impressively accurate in its assessment of what the next pandemic disease would be. It correctly assumed that the next bug would be a novel coronavirus, that it would originally come from bats, that it would have a high reproductive rate (R0 of 2), that it would have an incubation period, that it would be a respiratory disease with airborne transmission, that it would cause SARS-like symptoms and the mortality rate of those infected and suffering symptoms would be 10%. This is exactly what the Wuhan coronavirus is, and does. The only differences between the Event 201 hypothetical disease, which it called CAPS (Coronavirus Associated Pulmonary Syndrome), and the Wuhan virus is that a) the Wuhan virus may have an even higher reproductive rate of anywhere between 2.5 and 4, and b) the Wuhan virus's mortality rate may be higher than 10%. A recent Lancet study put the death rate at 11% but, according to the John Hopkins real-time update site, the deaths in Hubei province have been 350 and the recovery total is 295. This would indicate a death rate, following serious symptoms, of 54%!!

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It's therefore extremely useful to see what the people at Event 201 predicted would happen to our world if such a virus broke out in the human population. Their epidemiological modelling came up with a global mortality, once the virus petered out, of 65 million people worldwide. The Wuhan virus, according to the latest studies, is far more infectious and far more deadly. We would therefore be looking at a global death total in the hundreds of millions, if not a billion or more. It was also clear in the simulation that efforts to contain and control the disease failed miserably. The long incubation period, along with the high infection rate, made it impossible to keep the disease isolated in one area. Our modern world, in which vast numbers of people travel from continent to continent, 24 hours a day, is a sitting duck when a pandemic virus appears.

Another illuminating element of the Event 201 simulation was the obsession, shared by nearly all member of the panel, to keep the economy healthy. Concerns about millions of people dying seemed to be taking second place to concerns that businesses wouldn't suffer. It certainly makes sense to be concerned about the economic impact of a pandemic; our massively debt-based Western economies are extremely fragile to 'Black Swan' events and the Wuhan virus will, almost certainly, cause a stock-market crash. Nevertheless, I still found it nauseous to hear senior people talk in the simulation about 'economic growth priorities' when millions of people were dying on the screens.

I also need to point out that I don't think that Event 201 indicates some sort of conspiracy. An idea has been circulating on the web that some sort of top-level conspiracy is going on to cull the population and Event 201 was part of that plan. I find that highly unlikely. It's true that the timing of Event 201 is surprisingly close to the Wuhan outbreak but events like Event 201 occur regularly. Statistically speaking, it's not that surprising that such an event would be close to the time of a pandemic outbreak. I think we should view Event 201 as simply a useful source of well-researched information.

As for the possibility that the Wuhan virus was deliberately released from a lab to cull the population… Well, I don't know. I am reminded of the famous Alternative 3 documentary, broadcast in the late 1970's in England. In that documentary, the presenter explains that top-level people are trying to decide what to so about impending climate-change collapse. They came up with three alternatives; cull the population, build underground bases or create colonies on Mars. The Wuhan virus does seem to fit the first alternative. Alternative 3 was officially a spoof documentary but it was strangely prescient about the climate change. This caused many people to believe that it wasn't fiction after all. In the end, who knows?

I think it's best, for all of us, that we focus on the practical issues. A terrible pandemic is underway. We must make preparations and warn our friends and family about what we face. It's better to be prepared, and possibly overreact, than be complacent and get an awful shock.