A mock simulation of a flu-like virus used to test political and medical experts has revealed that the world is not well prepared for such a real-life crisis should it arise.
According to Business Insider, a team at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security created a virus called “Clade X” in the simulation drill. The virus was designed to be “moderately contagious” and “moderately lethal.” Yet, in the simulation, it turned out to kill 900 million people worldwide if a vaccine was not developed. That number is equivalent to 10 percent of the world’s current population.
Using a mock bioengineered virus, the simulation released the virus onto the general public by a fictional group known as A Brighter Dawn as a biological weapon used to reduce the population back to pre-industrial levels. This group was “largely modeled after the cult Aum Shinrikyo, which released the chemical weapon sarin on the Tokyo subway in 1995,”
Within the simulated scenario, the Clade X virus was considered comparable to the SARS virus, which also had a mortality rate of 10 percent according to Fox News. Clade X was then allowed to run rampant for 20 months to see the effects. According to the study, at the end of the 20 months, 150 million people had been killed. In addition, if a vaccine was not developed, 900 million lives would be lost to the mock virus.
While these numbers are concerning, the point of this mock exercise was to evaluate just how world leaders would react to such a devastating situation in order to enact real-life contingency plans that can be considered effective should such a situation really occur. Using a plausible virus and the world’s current resources, the virus was tracked as it turned into a pandemic.
While the experts assigned during the drill were those that were in place around the world today, the report has shown that there are still areas of power that need to be worked on.
Dr. Eric Toner, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health Security and the designer of the Clade X simulation, revealed details of the simulation outcome to Business Insider.
“I think we learned that even very knowledgeable, experienced, devoted senior public officials who have lived through many crises still have trouble dealing with something like this. And it’s not because they are not good or smart or dedicated, it’s because we don’t have the systems we need to enable the kind of response we’d want to see.”
These mock simulations may seem scary to the general population. However, without such drills, world leaders and health experts would be less prepared than they are now in regard to real-life situations.