Pandemic virus simulations 2001 – 2019 Overview, personal thoughts and notes

by InterMezzo

Introduction

Looking at all the threads and discussions about the current coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, I thought it was interesting to provide some background information regarding simulations that were done between 2001 and 2019, where a pandemic outbreak situation was played out. They were all organized by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (in combination with others.)

In the past two decades there have been 4 simulations:

Dark Winter (22-23 June 2001.)
Atlantic Storm (14 January 2005.)
Clade X (15 May 2018.)
Event 201 (18 October 2019.)

The first three events were simulations of bioterrorist attack. The first two events were about the deliberate spread of smallpox, the third even about a man made coronavirus and the last event was a simulation of an actual outbreak of a coronavirus originating from pigs.

In my follow up posts I will provide more in depth information of each separate event. This information is freely available on the internet, so I will provide links to event pages, youtube videos and (if available) some media coverage. For the Clade X event I could not find a good summary video, so I downloaded it from FB and uploaded it to YouTube.

Some of the videos have (how could it be else) political statements in them about current or previous administrations. These are not my views or statements. It is up to everyone for themselves to decide which political side they wish to choose or which statements they wish to believe.

Bioterrorism or biological warfare is of all ages. In 1346, the bodies of Mongol warriors who had died of plague were thrown over the walls of the besieged Crimean city of Kaffa (now Theodosia). After a protracted siege, during which the Mongol army under Jani Beg was suffering the disease, they catapulted the infected corpses over the city walls to infect the inhabitants. It has been speculated that this operation may have been responsible for the arrival of the Black Death in Europe. (source Wikipedia.)

For those who want more information on what a pandemic actually is:
[link to en.wikipedia.org (secure)]

Please keep in mind that for a virus outbreak to be deemed pandemic, time goes by. Information trickling out of China on the current outbreak is insufficient and most likely not correct (in my opinion.) We can argue and ridicule each other about it being a global outbreak or not, but that has no use at this point. Based on the exponential growth in the next 4-6 weeks, this discussion has much more value then. Keep your ears and eyes open and do not believe everything you hear or see. Do help each other getting informed and be prepared just in case.

In that respect this thread is also about awareness.

Because I myself want my family, friends and loved ones to be safe and prepared. I do not wish anyone ill or dead. Not in China, not in the rest of the world. If we can stick together and teach and help the uninformed, together we could save lives, without having to rely on what is fed to us by agenda driven governments or institutions. Lives, of ourselves and others.

 

Event 1: Dark Winter (22-23 June 2001)

Event page:
www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/our-work/events-archive/2001_dark-winter/about.html

The Dark Winter exercise, held at Andrews AFB, Washington, DC, June 22-23, 2001, portrayed a fictional scenario depicting a covert smallpox attack on US citizens. The scenario is set in 3 successive National Security Council (NSC) meetings (Segments 1, 2 and 3) that take place over a period of 14 days. Former senior government officials played the roles of NSC members responding to the evolving epidemic; representatives from the media were among the observers of these mock NSC meetings and played journalists during the scenario’s press conferences. (more in link above. Page has internal links to other sections as well, right side, under “Related content”.) George W. Bush was the initiator of the event.

Highlights video:

Context:
Taiwan-China Tensions
Nuke/Bio Smuggling (Al Qaida / Bin Laden)
Suspected Bioweapon production – Iraq
Southwest Asia tensions Iraq – Kuwait

President remark beginning event:

“..This is an extremely serious situation. Smallpox no longer exists in nature. Presumably, this disease has been deliberately introduced and these cases are the result of a bioterrorist attack on the United States. We have received no notifications from other countries or groups claiming credit, and at present the FBI has no information regarding who might have mounted this attack or how they accomplished it…”

Intelligence briefing:
“..Wide area satellite imagery taken of a suspected bioresearch facility outside of Samarra, Iraq reveals what appears to be an expanded “exclusionary zone” around the facility. Security checkpoints now exist (in a 10 mile radius) on all approaches to the zone. It appears that all civilian activity within the zone has ceased. Several small villages show no signs of human, animal or vehicular activity. Activity in and around the biofacility appears normal..”

Late stage memo to FBI Director:
“..Prominent Iraqi defector is claiming that Iraq arranged the bioweapons attacks on the US through intermediaries. This information is now deemed highly credible. There is no forensic evidence to support this claim however. Iraq has denied any involvement; however Iraq’s Deputy Minister has vowed to retaliate in ‘highly damaging ways’ if US takes action against Iraq…”

Timeline:
Dec 17 2001. End 1st Gen: 3K cases, 1K death US, 10 countries affected.
Jan 3 2002. End 2nd Gen: 30K cases, 10K deaths US, global spread.
Jan 20 2002. End 3rd Gen: 300K cases, 100K deaths US, global spread.
Feb 6 2002. End 4th Gen: 3M cases, 1M deaths US, global spread.

The full script is available here. Warning: Contains graphic pictures!!!:
www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/our-work/events-archive/2001_dark-winter/Dark%20Winter%20Script.pdf

Summarized (fictional):
Not enough vaccines available (12M), production 12M/month.
Martial law declared. Social unrest. Civil War. Economy crash.
From first cases to full blown in 7 weeks.
Health Care system failed.
Every country / state for their own. No coordination globally.
Closed borders. Travel restrictions.

After this event, G.W. Bush ordered the production of smallpox vaccines for all US citizens.

Questionable events:
September 11, 2001. Twin Tower and other attacks. Al Qaida or staged?
March 20, 2003. Beginning of Iraq War, based on WMD theory.

More on Operation Dark Winter (including external links):
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Dark_Winter

 

Event 2: Atlantic Storm (14 January 2005)

Event page:
www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/our-work/events-archive/2005_atlantic_storm/index.html

How would world (global) leaders manage the catastrophe of a fast-moving global epidemic of deadly disease? Atlantic Storm was a ministerial table-top exercise convened on January 14, 2005 by the Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Center for Transatlantic Relations of the Johns Hopkins University, and the Transatlantic Biosecurity Network. The exercise used a fictitious scenario designed to mimic a summit of transatlantic leaders forced to respond to a bioterrorist attack. (more in link above. Page has internal links to other sections as well, right side, under “Related content.” )

Highlights video:

Video is hidden from search on YouTube.

Context:
Cases of smallpox in Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and Turkey. The attacks were carried out by vaccinated terrorists who walked throughout the target locations for several hours during periods of peak occupancy. A commercially available dry powder dispenser the size of a small fire extinguisher was hidden in a backpack and used to disseminate the agent.

Full scenario here: 
www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/our-work/events-archive/2005_atlantic_storm/exercise_materials_list.html

Summarized (fictional):
From 51 cases to 3.320 cases in 4.5 hours, with transatlantic spread.
Not enough vaccines available (10% of global population.)

Link:

www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/our-work/events-archive/2005_atlantic_storm/pdf/materials/update_1000.pdf
Lack of coordination between leaders and our country first policy.
See for other conclusions the scenario link above.

More on Operation Atlantic Storm (including external links):
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Storm

 

 

Event 3: Clade X (15 May 2018):

Event page:
www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/our-work/events/2018_clade_x_exercise/about-clade-x

The scenario begins with an outbreak of novel parainfluenza virus that is moderately contagious and moderately lethal and for which there are no effective medical countermeasures. The virus is called Prepared as background material by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security for the Clade X tabletop exercise “parainfluenza clade X.” Outbreaks of disease first appear in Frankfurt, Germany, and Caracas, Venezuela, and are spreading person-to-person. The disease is spread primarily by coughing and causes severe symptoms requiring hospitalization and intensive care in about half of the people infected. Overall, 20% of the severely ill patients die. (More in link above, page has links to other sections of the event top, right and below.)

Unlike Ebola, which spreads through direct contact and bodily fluids, the “Clade X” virus in the Johns Hopkins simulation was a flulike respiratory virus, which would spread far more easily from person to person through coughing and sneezing. That’s how the 1918 influenza pandemic spread. It killed more than 50 million people and is the deadliest pandemic in history. (If you ask infectious disease experts what they fear most, without fail they answer: “pandemic influenza.”)

The fictional outbreak was revealed to be a virus engineered in a Swiss lab by a terrorist group. In another grabbed-from-the-headlines twist, the terrorists had inserted deadly genes from the Nipah virus, a rare brain-damaging virus.

more in link:

www.washingtonpost.com/

More media articles to be found here (some restricted):
www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/our-work/events/2018_clade_x_exercise/media

Highlights video (downloaded from FB and uploaded to YouTube):

Disclaimer: As said in the introduction, some media (like video above) contain political statements about current or previous administrations. These are not my views or statements. It is up to everyone for themselves to decide which political side they wish to choose or which statements they wish to believe.

Full episodes of the event here:
www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/our-work/events/2018_clade_x_exercise/livestream

Or here through YouTube Search:
www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Clade+x

Summarized (fictional):
No vaccine available. Takes 20 months.
150 million deaths in 20 months = 2% of world population.
Mostly same conclusions as first two events regarding coordination, martial law, travel bans, economy crash and added restrictions on (social) media.
Health systems crash.

Thoughts:
It shows that the production of vaccines is no priority for the private sector. Basically it is financially driven, based on “what if the virus changes?”
In this scenario the US president gets severely ill and half of US congress dies. In my belief that is a very political biased add on to the scenario, also looking at the statements in the highlights video. Personally I don’t see any value in this, other than trying to influence US voter opinion.

For who ever believes in predictions. Apparently the blind mystic Baba Varga predicted chemical attacks, mortal illness for President Trump and an assassination attempt on Putin in 2020 :
www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7824281/Blind-mystic-Baba-Varga-predicts-doom-Trump-Putin.html

 

Event 4: Project 201 (18 October 2019):

Event page:
www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/event201/about

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. (More in link above, page has links to other sections of the event top, right and below.)

Full scenario here:
www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/event201/scenario.html

Media coverage here:
www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/event201/media

Highlights video:

Full episodes of the event here:
www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/event201/videos.html

Or here through YouTube Search:
www.youtube.com/results?search_query=event+201

Summarized (fictional):
No vaccine available in the first year. 10% fatality rate.
Cases increasing from 30.000 to 12 million in 3 months.
Deaths increasing from 2.000 to 1 million in 3 months.
After 18 months, 65 million deaths.
Financial system collapse. Martial law. Social unrest, etc.
Recession bigger than the Great Depression.
Social Media (FB, Twitter) restricted.
No countries able control the spread.
Travel, finance, service, manufacturing, health, insurance hit the hardest.
Economic recovery takes at least a decade, gaining trust back even longer.

Advice on communication from players:
Social media platforms need to be broadcasting instead of being technology platform.
Centralised international communication to counter conspiracy topics.
Collect data to find misinformation and fake news.
Flood good information through trusted channels.
Awareness of false info through governments for political gain.

This summary is more extended, because it is the event that took place most recent and has a coronavirus as subject.

More info on the Johns Hopkins Center, all events and extended external links:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johns_Hopkins_Center_for_Health_Security

Closing notes: 

The above events and scenarios may be fictional, but they can serve as a blueprint in case of an actual pandemic situation. It might read as a fiction book or movie, but in fact it is a very scary situation, that in reality may lead to widespread disaster. My basic goal is not to scare anyone or be a disaster tourist, but to make people aware of how fast a local disease can lead to a global pandemic. Either man made or spread through animals.

What struck me most in these events is the following:
Governments talk a lot, but are not ready for events like these.
When push comes to shove, it is mostly each for their own.
Private and public sector interests are (still) miles apart.
Vaccine production is NOT a priority, financially driven.
Governments unable to coop with speed pandemic.
World Health Organisation (WHO) is basically invisible.
WHO is subjective to governments’ political agenda.
Honest, speedy information is not a quality (to say the least.)

And there for sure are much more remarks to make, subjective and objective, about communication, internet, social media, the causes of the current outbreak etc. Everyone has their own opinion on that and is entitled to it. But keep it clean. Like my other threads, I will not tolerate insulting or name calling. Discuss, but in a respectful and mature way.

I myself am left with the feeling that in case such a pandemic will occur, we need to rely on our own circle of influence rather than trusting the governments, but also be aware of false information spread by those who have no other goal than to spread chaos.

My friends, apart from the current situation, we live in challenging times. Mother Nature is angry, earthquakes, volcanoes, floods. Drums of war. People are angry and divided, often not even knowing why or triggered by the immature, subjective political climate (no matter what side of the spectrum.)

But this world is not all bad. Not by far. Just look around you. Your neighbor of so many years is still the same neighbor, whether you like him or not. We can still laugh about silly stuff, play our music, live our lives the way we do. We do have happy times, even though spending to much time online might make you think otherwise.

We need to help those we can help and make them aware and prepare for what might come. If it doesn’t happen, no harm done, right? All the better! There is nothing lost in preparation, but also not in putting people at ease, lending them an ear or a shoulder or whatever help they can use. We all live on this piece of rock together, so we better make the most of it.

So take care of yourself and each other!