Senator Dato ‘Sri Ti Lian Ker is the Deputy Minister of National Unity appointed in the Cabinet of Malaysia 2020.
He is the MCA Vice President.
Fact check: A Bill Gates-backed pandemic simulation in October did not predict COVID-19
March 26, 2020
The claim: Bill Gates and the World Economic Forum predicted the coronavirus pandemic
As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts the globe, rumors abound online about the origin of the virus. On March 16, @freedom_faction posted an image on Instagram along with the claim that “COVID-19 was launched” a month after billionaire Bill Gates hosted a “high-level pandemic exercise” event.
“#BillGates hosted a closed-door meeting for global elites and the invitation came with a #COVID19 #coronavirus plush toy, a few months later thousands would be dead,” the post reads.
“The participants of Event 201, invited there by the rich and powerful elites that rule the world, sat and war-gamed how an outbreak of COVID-19 coronavirus might go,” @freedom_faction also wrote in the post. “Looks like the meeting was a success because just one month to the day later, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in China, and well, you know the rest.”
The image that accompanied the post was a screenshot of an article from the website Now The End Begins, which frequently publishes articles and videos which claim signs of the apocalypse in current events.
The Instagram post cites a Johns Hopkins University pandemic preparedness simulation known as Event 201 as the scene. “Of course, it was invitation only, and held behind closed doors,” the post reads.
USA TODAY reached out to the Instagram author for comment and has received no reply yet.
Conspiracy theories about the event have circulated online for months; A Jan. 29 article posted on the website Humans Are Free claimed the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and World Economic Forum had conducted a pandemic simulation “just six weeks before the real outbreak.”
The article then goes on to say “that is one hell of a coincidence if you believe in that sort of thing.” It heavily insinuates the baseless claim that the event was conducted as preparation for the current coronavirus outbreak.
Although Event 201 was a real operation, there is no evidence that it was meant to model or engineer the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Event 201 and pandemic preparation.
The Center for Health Security has hosted three pandemic simulations prior to Event 201, going back to a 2001 simulation known as Dark Winter. The October simulation was the first time the center included private sector actors in its exercises, in the hopes of modeling how they might also react in such a crisis.
Host responds to prediction claim
“To be clear, the Center for Health Security and partners did not make a prediction during our tabletop exercise,” the university program said in a statement rejecting the claim that it predicted the current pandemic. “We are not now predicting that the nCoV-2019 outbreak will kill 65 million people,” the center added.
The center further stated that the results of the scenario cannot be used to project for the COVID-19 outbreak because “the inputs we used for modeling the potential impact of that fictional virus are not similar to nCoV-2019.”
The origins and severity of the fictional pandemic differ from the current outbreak, as do the reactions of national governments and civic institutions. The disease in the scenario was “modeled largely on SARS” according to recaps of the program.
Event 201 didn’t predict the Covid-19 pandemic
27 APRIL 2020
“Event 201” was an exercise organised in October 2019 to simulate what might happen if there was a severe pandemic. We’ve been asked by readers to look into whether it really happened , why it wasn’t covered much in the media, and whether it’s simply a coincidence that it took part just months before the Covid-19 pandemic started.
The event was real but the fact it took place just before the pandemic started doesn’t mean the organisers had any secret knowledge, which has been suggested by some.
The organisers said they ran the exercise because the world has seen a “growing number of epidemic events.” Previous similar exercises run by the same organisations and others have not been followed by similar outbreaks.
The specifics of the exercise should not be taken as predictions for the Covid-19 pandemic.
The simulation was based on a coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean the organisers knew about the one that causes Covid-19. The first known cases of Covid-19 weren’t publicly identified until December 2019, although media reports of unpublished data suggest that some early cases may have been infected in November that year.
Coronaviruses are a broad category of viruses which cause a number of different respiratory illnesses. One is the common cold, but the category also includes SARS (the severe acute respiratory syndrome, of which there were outbreaks in 2002 and 2004), and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) in addition to Covid-19.
The organisers said: “The players’ responses to the scenario illuminated the need for cooperation among industry, national governments, key international institutions, and civil society, to avoid the catastrophic consequences that could arise from a large-scale pandemic.”
It doesn’t tell us much about the Covid-19 outbreak
Event 201 took place just a few months before the initial Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan. This has led some to say that Event 201 “predicted” the current pandemic.
However, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security has said: “the Center for Health Security and partners did not make a prediction during our tabletop exercise.
“For the scenario, we modeled a fictional coronavirus pandemic, but we explicitly stated that it was not a prediction.”
The participants in Event 201 estimated the fictional pandemic would kill 65 million people. Johns Hopkins added that this did not mean that it predicted that the Covid-19 outbreak would result in that many deaths and that the inputs it used were different from what’s being observed with Covid-19.
Neither coincidence nor conspiracy
As for the timing of the event, this isn’t just simple coincidence, nor is it a sign that, somehow, the organisers knew about this specific coronavirus before it was reported.
It’s more that the reason for running these exercises reflects what the scientific community knows about pandemics.
Johns Hopkins said at the time that “the world has seen a growing number of epidemic events” and “experts agree that it is only a matter of time before one of these epidemics becomes global.”
As well as Event 201 last year, it also ran a similar exercise called Clade X the year before which simulated the impact of a fictional virus with “flu-like symptoms”.
As for why the organisers modelled the impacts of a coronavirus as opposed to any other disease, again this isn’t a result of conspiracy or coincidence but expertise. For one, the world has seen recent outbreaks of coronaviruses such as MERS and SARS, so it’s a relevant type of virus to model.
And because coronaviruses are particularly good at evolving, scientists have previously warned that they are contenders for pandemics.
- By Abbas Panjwani