Monkeypox Spreads Year After Global Exercise (Worthy News Investigation)
by Worthy News Staff
BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – The world’s first global outbreak of monkeypox comes a year after an international biosecurity gathering simulated an unusual strain of the potentially deadly disease in Munich, Germany, according to a report obtained by Worthy News.
The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) group partnered with the Munich Security Conference in the March 2021 “tabletop exercise on reducing high-consequence biological threats.”
An NTI extensive report about last year’s event concluded that the world is ill-prepared to deal with pandemics and biosecurity, Worthy News learned.
The fictional exercise scenario “portrayed a deadly, global pandemic involving an unusual strain of monkeypox virus that first emerged in the fictional nation of Brinia,” NTI explained.
NTI wanted to be involved as it claims to be a “nonprofit, nonpartisan global security organization focused on reducing nuclear and biological threats imperiling humanity.”
It said that in the exercise, a monkeypox strain spread globally over 18 months.
“Ultimately, the exercise scenario revealed that the initial outbreak was caused by a terrorist attack using a pathogen engineered in a laboratory with inadequate biosafety and biosecurity provisions and weak oversight,” NTI recalled. “By the end of the exercise, the fictional pandemic resulted in more than three billion cases and 270 million fatalities worldwide.”
NTI added, “Participants in the exercise included 19 senior leaders and experts from across Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe. [Delegates had] decades of combined experience in public health, biotechnology industry, international security, and philanthropy.”
However, “exercise participants agreed that…the international system of pandemic prevention, detection, analysis, warning, and response is woefully inadequate to address current and anticipated future challenges,” NTI wrote.
NTI noted that “notwithstanding improvements following the global response to COVID-19,” there are “Gaps in the international biosecurity and pandemic preparedness architecture.”
Those gaps “are extensive and fundamental, undermining the ability of the international community to prevent and mount effective responses to future biological events.”
NTI stressed that those incidents could include “those that could match the impacts of COVID-19 or cause damage that is significantly more severe.”
In the report, NTI suggests, among other recommendations, developing an early warning system “that can rapidly communicate actionable information about pandemic risks.”
It also wants more funds and expertise to help countries better prepare for pandemics and other major health crises.
NTI wants the World Health Organization and the United Nations to develop an international public health alert system.
The U.N. should also be involved in “a new mechanism for investigating high-consequence biological events of unknown origin,” the group added in the report.
It was not immediately clear what impact the report had on WHO’s decision to convene an emergency meeting and follow-up gatherings on the worldwide outbreak of monkeypox.
Across Europe, North America, and other areas, the disease is spreading, according to WHO officials. Monkeypox is a virus that originates in wild animals like rodents and primates, and occasionally jumps to people. Most human cases have been in central and west Africa, where the disease is endemic. The first known human infection was in 1970, in a 9-year-old boy in a remote part of Congo.
Monkeypox belongs to the same virus family as smallpox but causes milder symptoms. Most patients only experience fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. People with more serious illness may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body. Monkeypox can be fatal for up to one in 10 people and is thought to be more severe in children, experts say. However, most people recover within about two to four weeks without needing to be hospitalized.
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