A global pandemic with a genetically engineered virus could claim 900 million lives before it can be controlled. This is a realistic exercise from a reputable American research institute.
The Center for Health Security at the highly reputable American Johns Hopkins University held an exercise in May to show how the US government would respond to an expanding pandemic. The starting point: the greatest fear that scientists currently have for humanity, a genetically engineered virus used as a weapon.
Representatives from ten US ministries and agencies participated in the exercise: they had to make the decisions they would take in similar conditions. Should aviation traffic be stopped? Do international borders have to be closed? Should international aid be called?
Researcher Eric Toner spent years saying preparation of the simulation, to make it as realistic as possible. That is why a hypothetical virus was chosen that was only "mediocre infectious and deadly."
The result of the exercise was not encouraging: the virus – which according to the simulation starts with the infection of 400 people in Eastern Europe and South America – first looks like a cold, but then kills 50 people. Only then will the medical services in Germany make an alarm.
Patients cough and have a fever, some show signs of confusion. After a week, a large proportion of them develop encephalitis (swelling of the brain) that results in coma and then death. Research shows that the virus is spread by the mucus that the coughing patients blow into the air, but the exact characteristics of the virus escaped the scientists from around the world.
What is known: the virus, that the name ' Clade X 'gets, contains elements of the Nipah virus, a rare but deadly disease that in reality is already labeled by the World Health Organization as an "urgent research priority" because of the threat that it can develop into a pandemic.
Sect requires responsibility
But in the simulation the global panic only happens when a sect that calls itself "A Brighter Dawn" ("A Bright Dawn") mentions that it had used commercially freely available technology to develop the virus, "so as to destroy the industrialized world and destroy the human population.
After a year, the toll in the United States alone rises to 15 million, with 150 million victims worldwide. But at that time, no vaccine has yet been developed. The simulation was stopped after the equivalent of 20 months. The projected dodentol at that moment: 900 million people
"We will not have the right systems if this ever becomes reality"
The conclusions linking the John Hopkins Center to the simulation are frightening: according to the researchers, humanity in the fight against new and unusual viruses does not currently have the ability to develop, produce, and distribute vaccines in the few months that a virus needs to become a global pandemic. "Moreover, health structures worldwide would not be able to cope with the sheer number of patients causing such a pandemic."
"The lesson we have learned is that even very knowledgeable, experienced and dedicated people would struggle have a problem with what we have stated, "says Toner. "And it's not because they're not smart enough, but because we do not currently have the systems that would be needed to provide an appropriate response. And that will not be the case if a disease like Clade X ever really appears. "