Updated: Jun 3
‘Everybody is waiting for this guy to slip. He hasn't slipped, and there's very little chance that he will. Everything that he keeps his hands in will work, and he will win.’ -Alan Kerr, Ogilvy & Mather
A year before Event 201 took place, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health - Center for Health Security hosted a different pandemic preparedness exercise called Clade X.
Unlike Event 201, the Clade X event also provides a significant amount of supplementary materials that go into detail on federally-enforced contact tracing & quarantine, mandatory vaccination guidelines, and legislation that provides statutory authority for emergency response.
I won't spoil the rest for you, but some of the details I've found blew my mind. I found even more after that that still has me 'shook'.
Let's get started:
Clade X Trailer. 1 Minute 36 Seconds.
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A common question asked in Greek literature is whether oracles predict the future or if they create it.
- Would Oedipus have killed his father had the Oracle at Delphi never prophesied he would?
- Had the witches not said Macbeth would not be harmed by anyone woman born, would he still have gone down the path that led to him being killed by Macduff?
- Was Homer connected to the Oracle at Dodona or simply aware of it?
Centuries later, the same questions can be asked of Bill Gates. His entire Microsoft career seemed to center around him being a non-supernatural kind of seer. In early interviews, Gates makes most (if not all) of his public-facing statements very carefully- while still making bold claims about the future of tech. Interviewers enthralled with his wealth, success, and aloof demeanor, would gush over his insight and genius. Viewers and readers influenced by these interactions would then adopt the new technology, therefore making his predictions come true.
The very same playbook as he used then is the one he uses now. Bill Gates will tell you his thoughts on the future of newspapers, television, advertising, communications, telephones,
healthcare systems, educational curriculum, and just about anything else you might think of.
Some of his predictions are better than others:
At the Microsoft CEO Summit, 1997:
"Within 10 years the majority of all adults will be using electronic mail and living a form of that Web lifestyle."
I mean he's not wrong, but email was already quite popular by 1997 with the release of AOL that year. Amazon, Ebay, Google, etc. had all been online since 1995 and before. If he'd said it two years earlier, it would have been a much bolder statement.
Gates made the email comment to bolster Microsoft's efforts at the time. That might seem sort of obvious, but it's going to be important in a minute. The more he could influence and align the market with his vision, and the more predictions came to market successfully, the bolder the claims could become.
People tend to equate wealth and power with wisdom. Bizarrely, despite decades of behavior suggesting otherwise, Bill Gates has also managed to convince people that he's got their best interest at heart as well.
If you've never seen it before, here's Gates giving a deposition during the United States v. Microsoft Corp. antitrust complaint in 1998.
"I've been astounded by some of the statements of Gates and Ballmer," Judge Jackson told The New York Times. "I'm in the midst of a growing realization that with what looks like Microsoft intransigence, a breakup is inevitable."
Steve Jobs once suggested that Gates "would be a broader guy if he had dropped acid or gone off to an ashram when he was younger."
In Bill Gates Speaks, I learned that in sixth grade Gates was sent to a psychologist. After a year of working with Bill, the doctor reported to Mrs. Gates it was useless to expect her son to be obedient and conform to conventional behavior:
‘You're going to lose,’ the psychologist told Bill's mom. ‘You might as well just get used to it because you're not going to beat him.’
He also has a history of warning us about the impending doom we all face due to an epidemic.
At a recent talk in April 2018, Bill Gates warned that we're not prepared for an epidemic.
‘In the case of biological threats, that sense of urgency is lacking," he said. "The world needs to prepare for pandemics in the same serious way it prepares for war.’
In fact, he's been saying this for quite a while. Among the threats is laboratory-grown medically-resistant Smallpox that our very own National Institute of Health cooked up.
Here he is telling Vox about his worries in 2015.
"Offer the women better tools where they want to space birthing
or have a smaller family size. And improve health because
amazingly as children survive parents feel like they have
enough kids to support them in their old age and they'll
have less children." - August 2012
Gates has done his absolute best to slowly corner the healthcare market, much like he did with Microsoft back in the day. Describing his approach as “creative capitalism” and “catalytic philanthropy,” Gates shifted his foundation to leverage “all the tools of capitalism” to “connect the promise of philanthropy with the power of private enterprise.”
It seems, since his Ted Talks weren't getting enough attention, Gates pivoted into funding pandemic exercises at Johns Hopkins to help bolster his influence.
‘For me to become gun-shy might require surgery.’
Here's where Clade X comes in.
Clade X is the prequel to Event 201 that took place on October 17, 2019. It was third in the line of the four pandemic exercises Johns Hopkins has held thus far (as of 5/23/2020). First was Dark Winter, and second was Atlantic Storm. The exercise was sponsored by the Open Philanthropy Project- "a donor-advised fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation."
Clade X is a simulation of the worst pandemic since the 1918 Spanish Flu. To make it seem authentic, a fake cable news broadcast was played for the room.
‘There were reports of 400 confirmed cases, mostly clustered in Frankfurt, Germany. The anchor described the spread of a new type of para-influenza virus, called Clade X. Transmitted through inhalation, it leaves the infected contagious, but otherwise unaffected for up to week before killing more than 10% of its victims.’
‘I'm not competent to judge his technical ability, but I regard his business savvy as extraordinary. If Bill had started a hot dog stand, he would have become the hot dog king of the world.’ -Warren Buffett
Here's What Happens
The exercise simulates a series of National Security Council-convened meetings of 10 US government leaders, played by individuals prominent in the fields of national security or epidemic response. It also replicated what many believe to be the greatest threat currently facing humanity: genetic engineering of viruses to turn them into deadly weapons.
A Population Reduction Group Causes the Outbreak
Drawing from actual events, Clade X identifies important policy issues and preparedness challenges that could be solved with sufficient political will and attention. These issues were designed in a narrative to engage and educate the participants and the audience. Lessons learned from Clade X will be distilled by the Center and shared broadly.
Overall, 20% of severely ill patients will die if no measures are taken.
Congresswoman Susan Brooks
CDC Director Julia Gerberding
Overseeing the whole thing was Tom Inglesby, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
‘A number of the players, a number of times, said the equivalent of ‘We can’t do this; it’s not consistent with American values,’ Inglesby said. ‘When you’re having a public-health debate about quarantine, say, or resource allocation, you don’t always go to that level. (...) The reason we wanted to do this now is because there are new leaders, and there are still large issues that have not been resolved.’
From the article: Some of these issues emerged during the Ebola crisis of 2014, when the United States came very close to shutting down air travel from the West African countries where the disease had broken out. Such a ban would have been in violation of the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations, to which the U.S. is a signatory.
Telling the average American that a travel ban wouldn’t work ‘is not going to wash,’ Talent said. ‘This needs to be communicated in terms of their health—that a travel ban will detract from our ability to protect their health.’
They were also presented with a scenario in which limited supplies of the vaccine were going to be given to essential workers, including members of Congress and business leaders, rather than children and pregnant women.
Another scenario: private hospitals turned away Clade X patients. By the end of the simulation, American health care had been forcibly nationalized.
Governors enacted state-level quarantines and border cordons.
‘In an outbreak there will be federalism issues,’ Inglesby said, ‘They may be manageable. They may not be.’
Julie Gerberding, a former director of the C.D.C., pointed out global vaccine-manufacturing capacity is insufficient to meet projected demand for a worldwide pandemic.
Cued to start right when Bill says he wants a global military for fighting diseases.
Margaret Hamburg, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, argued in favor of a clinical corps, equipped to travel to the source of outbreaks and try to contain them there before they reach pandemic proportions.
The players are confronted with several complex problems, including:
Global health security.
Lack of capacity for isolation, transportation, and care of highly infectious patients.
Decisions about whether and how to conduct large-scale screening, monitoring, and quarantine of potentially exposed individuals.
The complex and often unclear lines of U.S. government authority. With regards to public health and medical response resulting from the US federal system of government and the nearly entirely private healthcare system.
The complicated and sometimes competing interests of international relations, US foreign policy, military strategy, and heath security; and
The challenges inherent in medical countermeasure development, manufacture, and dispensing in a crisis.
Clade X demonstrates how an outbreak of moderately contagious, moderately lethal novel pathogens can lead to potentially catastrophic global outcomes. Johns Hopkins recommends the US commit to 6 strategic policy goals:
Develop capability to produce new vaccines and drugs for novel pathogens within months not years.
Pioneer a strong and sustainable global health security system.
Build a robust, highly capable national public health system that can manage the challenges of pandemic response.
Develop a national plan to effectively harness all US healthcare assets in a catastrophic pandemic.
Implement an international strategy for addressing research that increases pandemic risks.
Ensure the national security community is well prepared to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease emergencies.
By the end of the day, which represented twenty months in the simulation, they had managed to kill a perfectly respectable hundred and fifty million people.
“America was just wiped out,” Talent said, before heading to a post-event cocktail reception.
Immediately Following Came the Reports:
A report by American scientists delivered to the Pentagon warned that simple modifications to bacteria could create diseases which were immune to all known antibiotics. The scientists warned that more complex ‘tweaks’ to microbes could lead to bacteria which would live in people’s guts, producing poison.
‘The government should pay close attention to this rapidly progressing field, as it did to advances in chemistry & physics during the Cold War era.’ Astronomer Royal Martin Rees warned, ‘My concern is not only organised terrorist groups, but individual weirdos with the mindset of the people who now design computer viruses.’
‘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,’ -Eric Toner, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health Security and designer of Clade X
The article continues: "The Clade X virus that Toner used in the simulation was only moderately contagious and moderately lethal. It spread as easily and was about as deadly as SARS, which infected more than 8,000 between 2002 and 2003, killing about 10 percent of those infected. Though Clade X involved a bioengineered virus, Toner said the response required wasn't necessarily different from what we'd need to deal with a naturally-emergent pathogen. A virus like Clade X could just as easily emerge naturally – if SARS had been just slightly different, it might even have been that virus.
‘The world was lucky SARS wasn't worse. That virus wasn't particularly contagious until people were already very sick.’
Bloomberg- 11/5/19 Earth Needs Fewer People to Beat the Climate Crisis, Scientists Say
I could go on forever, and I will keep writing on this so much more, because I've found tons, but I want to get this published.
But, one more last curiosity:
Clade, comes from the Greek κλάδος that was mentioned before... it refers typically to a branch of a tree, like the Phylogenic tree.
However, I didn't accept the Johns Hopkins provided definition and went to look for the origins on my own. And... holy shit.
Clade first appeared in more modern times in 1957, coined by the biologist Julian Huxley referring to cladogenesis—the evolutionary splitting of a parent species into two distinct species.
Julian Huxley, was the first Director General of UNESCO, and he was a eugenicist.
Clade isn't a Phylogenic Tree. It's the Eugenics Tree.
Logo from the Second International Eugenics Congress, 1921