On July 17th, of the Nuclear Threat Initiative partnered with the , , and the with support from the to bring together congressional staff across committees to highlight the challenges of detecting and responding to an outbreak caused by a novel pathogen. Clade X: A Global Health Security Simulation was designed to demonstrate that biological threats must be given the same priority as other major international security priorities because infectious disease outbreaks – whether naturally occurring, deliberate, or accidental – can kill millions, costs billions, and exacerbate political and economic instability and insecurity.
Carolyn Reynolds, vice president of PATH, described how and why outbreak preparedness is increasingly crucial to prevent loss of life, economic declines, and destabilization —in the United States and abroad. She reminded participants that the response to the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in West Africa cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars and resulted in deployment of the U.S. military, and Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea suffered a devastating loss of life and continue to feel the economic impact.
Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, moderated the simulation in which a previously unidentified pathogen, Clade X, causes a parainfluenza outbreak in Germany, Venezuela, Niger, and, ultimately, in the United States. While the events, administration, and political climate were fictional, the situation presented was realistic. Congressional staff had to decide what to do in response to the fast-moving outbreak, igniting a discussion about bi- and multi-lateral cooperation with other governments, the potential deployment of experts for protection and logistical support, and overall budget needs for an adequate response.
, vice president for Global Biological Policy and Programs at NTI, highlighted the importance of continued U.S. Government leadership, including through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Departments of Defense and State global health security-related programs. As the Global Health Security Agenda enters its next five years, the United States, together with partners around the world, will continue to play a crucial role in the effort to build sustainable, measurable international capability to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to future outbreaks.
This simulation was adapted from the daylong tabletophosted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in May 2018. The exercise simulated a series of National Security Council–convened meetings of ten U.S. Government leaders played by individuals prominent in the fields of national security or epidemic response. The simulation illustrated high-level strategic decisions and policies needed to prevent a severe pandemic or diminish its consequences should prevention fail.