Scientists Held “Global Pandemic Exercise” 3 Months Before Deadly Coronavirus Outbreak In China

Health experts held a “global pandemic” exercise involving a mock novel coronavirus 3 months before the deadly outbreak in China.

Update: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that scientists had predicted that a Coronavirus pandemic could kill 65 million people after conducting a tabletop exercise. They made no such prediction. The exercise served to highlight preparedness and response challenges that would likely arise in a very severe pandemic. The original story also incorrectly claimed that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation owned a patent to the virus. This was also false. We have therefore updated the headline and removed the false claims about the patent and prediction.

Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security modeled what would happen if a deadly coronavirus reached a pandemic scale.

The analysis, which was part of a collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, looked at what would happen if a pandemic originated in Brazilian pig farms.

The Mail Online reports: Dr Eric Toner, a senior researcher at Johns Hopkins, said he wasn’t shocked when news of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan in late December.

‘I have thought for a long time that the most likely virus that might cause a new pandemic would be a coronavirus,’ he told Business Insider.

‘We don’t yet know how contagious it is. We know that it is being spread person to person, but we don’t know to what extent.

‘An initial first impression is that this is significantly milder than SARS. So that’s reassuring. On the other hand, it may be more transmissible than SARS, at least in the community setting.’

Coronaviruses are infections of the respiratory tract that can lead to illnesses like pneumonia or the common cold.

One was also responsible for the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in China, which affected 8,000 people and killed 774 in the early 2000s.  

The US, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau and Nepal have all confirmed cases.