Bill and Melinda Gates Host Mock Pandemic

“Experts agree that it is only a matter of time before one of these epidemics becomes global—a pandemic with potentially catastrophic consequences.”

Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security host global pandemic exercise

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted a global pandemic exercise called “Event 201” on Friday, October 18, 2019, in New York City.

The exercise was intended to illustrate the pandemic preparedness efforts, response decisions, and cooperation required from global businesses, governments, and public health leaders that the world will need to diminish the large-scale economic and societal consequences of a severe pandemic.

In recent years, the world has seen a growing number of epidemic events—approximately 200 events annually.

These events are increasing, and they are disruptive to health, the economy, and society. Managing these events strains global capacity, even absent a pandemic threat.

Experts agree that it is only a matter of time before one of these epidemics becomes global—a pandemic with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Event 201 logoA severe pandemic, which becomes “Event 201,” would require reliable cooperation among several industries, national governments, and key international institutions.

15 global business, government, and public health leaders will be players in the 3.5-hour simulation exercise.

Players will be presented with a pandemic scenario that highlights unresolved real-world policy and economic issues that could be solved with sufficient political will, financial investment, and attention now and in the future. (Story continues below … )


Eric Toner, MD, a senior associate at the Center and Event 201 project lead said:

“We recognize that pandemics can have more than just health consequences, they can cause severe cascading economic and societal consequences.

“Neither the public sector nor the private sector alone can adequately respond to a severe pandemic; they must work together.

“That’s our goal for Event 201, and why an exercise of this kind is such a valuable and compelling way to help leaders understand the decisions needed to prevent, prepare for, and respond to biological threats.”

Recent economic studies show that pandemics will be the cause of an average annual economic loss of 0.7% of global GDP—or $570 billion.

The players’ responses to the scenario will illuminate challenges to essential cooperation among industry, national governments, key international institutions, and civil society needed to avoid the catastrophic consequences that could arise from a pandemic of this nature.

Ryan Morhard, the project lead for Global Health and Healthcare Industries at the World Economic Forum, explained:

“Outbreaks of infectious disease may be inevitable, but the economic damage they cause is not. While most of the authority rests with the public sector, most of the resources and capabilities exist in the private sector. Sustained attention from a broad public-private coalition is needed in advance of a severe pandemic to minimize economic and societal consequences.”

Like the Center’s 3 previous exercises — Clade X, Dark Winter, and Atlantic Storm — Event 201 will educate senior leaders at the highest level of US and international governments and leaders in global industries.

Chris Elias, president of global development at the Gates Foundation noted that “Event 201 and its predecessor simulations like Clade X are crucial tools to understand not only what is needed to effectively respond to global public health crises, but also the consequences of what happens when we are not prepared.”

The exercise is supported by funding from the Open Philanthropy Project.