Now is a good time to play Plague

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In October 2019, just months before the novel coronavirus started a deadly pandemic, a group of government officials, business leaders, and academics gathered in New York City to discuss how the novel coronavirus caused the deadly pandemic. Their simulated virus jumped from livestock to farmers in Brazil, then spread to Portugal, the United States, and China. Soon, it was everywhere. After 18 months, 65 million people died.

This simulation, known as Event 201, was one of the so-called pandemics that have occurred in the two decades that led to the outbreak of COVID-19. In the middle of 2020, when the world became aware of the recent events, the media published many stories about these simulations. Others emphasized theirs to knowsome of them blind spots. But the real problem that led to the review was only a few months old. Even what it provided was not yet in sight, because many of the challenges of the epidemic – new strains, uncertainty about vaccines, the politicization of public health – were still to come.

Almost three years later, we know that the military players messed up most of the long-term results. Before the outbreak of the epidemic, he predicted the first events such as the number of hospitals in the country, the restrictions that did not work, and the lack of cooperation in all the governments. But he downplayed the importance of containment policies, the speed with which vaccines can be developed, and the political pushback on those efforts. They also failed to respond due to the evolution of the virus, and did not understand how long the problem would last. “This event ends in 18 months,” the creators of Event 201 wrote. “The epidemic has started to decrease due to the decrease in the number of vulnerable people. The epidemic will continue until there is an effective vaccine or until 80-90% of the world’s population is exposed. ” If only.

Warriors are trying to learn from their mistakes. It was long before health officials declared the epidemic serious it’s over, the authorities had already begun to describe new phenomena that correspond to reality. At the security conference in Munich in February 2022, for example, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security helped conduct an exercise focused on the rapid development and equitable distribution of future virus vaccines, Tom Inglesby, director of the center, told me. At the end of that year, at the annual meeting held in Brussels by the WHO and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the same group made a metaphor where foreign and former foreign ministers had to fight false threats and reject non-medical interventions. . Unlike the pre-pandemic war games, this one reflected how governments viewed expert medical advice.

Calculating the reality of the coronavirus pandemic may make future war games more realistic, experts have told me, but it may not prove to be of much benefit. These actions are not meant to predict anything they will happens in the next epidemic, so prepare for that strength happen. Bringing the game up to date is all about how it ends up being.

Martial artists often make a distinction between tabletop exercises and bodyweight exercises. In the past, students sit and discuss what they would do in certain situations; finally, the actual participants to do that. They can carry heavy loads, distribute personal protective equipment, or care for patients in the hospital. The Pentagon moves real power around the world as part of its efforts. This practice is particularly important in the context of a pandemic, said Jennifer Nuzzo, director of Brown University’s Pandemic Center. “When I look back at COVID, a lot of the failures came from the fact that we didn’t fully use what we should have.”

Exercise can be very challenging, Inglesby said. Most are set up to prevent participants from becoming depressed, he said, as opposed to “exercise to failure.” This point can be taken too far, however, Nuzzo told me. If the game is too intense, people will get bored and quit. The actual weights, of course, are much higher, but if you’re trying to train someone to bench press, you can’t just drop a 200-pound barbell on your chest and yell “Go!” They should build strength over time.

Going through a real pandemic is a learning curve, too, but the experience doesn’t make war games worthless. In fact, it may be more important now than ever, experts told me. Before COVID-19, pandemic dramas were created to raise awareness – to show participants and the public at large that a pandemic could actually happen. Now, obviously, few people should be attracted to the danger. Post-COVID, exercise plays a very different role: It reminds us that the next pandemic may not look like the one we just experienced. It can have a very high mortality rate. It can make children sick and not the elderly. Symptoms may be neurological rather than respiratory. “Just having COVID doesn’t prepare us for all future scenarios,” Inglesby said. Events are just a few of the possibilities.

We try, through war games, to instill this. It’s not always easy. Event 201 though, epidemiological efforts often focus on the flu and not enough on the virus, perhaps because of how many epidemics it has caused in the past. It would be wrong to focus only on coronaviruses, and leave out the flu. In comparison to Brussels, Eric Toner, a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told me, some participants struggled to remember the recent events: “They came back saying, ‘Well, in COVID we did this,’ or ‘In COVID we did this.’ ”It is due diligence: learning from what happened without being forced by it.

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