Last year we ran a disaster scenario shockingly similar to the news now. Here’s what experts realized the world is getting wrong, and how they can fix it.
The news of a highly contagious new virus jumping from China to the U.S. has caught many Americans by surprise. For us, the outbreak was more like déjà vu: Last October, we convened a group of experts to work through what would happen if a global pandemic suddenly hit the world’s population. The disease at the heart of our scenario was a novel and highly transmissible coronavirus.
For our fictional pandemic, we assembled about 20 experts in global health, the biosciences, national security, emergency response and economics at our Washington, D.C., headquarters. The session was designed to stress-test U.S. approaches to global health challenges that could affect national security. As specialists in national security strategic planning, we’ve advised U.S. Cabinet officials, members of Congress, CEOs and other leaders on how to plan for crises before they strike, using realistic but fictional scenarios like this one.
The experts we convened walked through just how Americans and the global community would fare—how the pandemic would stress resources, bureaucracies and international relations. We then had participants backcast to today, recommending changes to our current path that could help avoid or manage the risks of a pandemic.
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