by Michael Novick, Anti-Racist Action-L.A.
The videos linked to here are from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation/Bloomberg School of Public Health “table-top” exercise planning for a novel corona-virus global pandemic (Center for Health Security planning exercise that took place in October 2019), urging governments and private businesses to work together to allocate and distribute medical supplies and treatments and deal with other aspects of such a pandemic.
These videos illustrate the impossibility of real planning under capitalism. They talked endlessly about how only private global supply chain corporations could deal with providing necessary medical supplies and treatments, how to deal with impacts on global transportation, how to handle the impacts on the financial system, and the possibilities of controlling the Internet to prevent the wide spread of misinformation and panic.
They called for cooperation between WHO and private global supply chain providers. They concluded that in their exercise, 65 million deaths resulted as the disease spread through impoverished mega-cities, and that the impact of the economic contraction would last for years. Their exercise assumed a much slower pace of the spread of the pandemic than what has actually occurred, and a less precipitous drop in stock values (always a big concern for the big bourgeoisie) and in economic output than now seems to be the case IRL. How accurate their prediction of deaths proves to be remains to be seen.
The coincidence of their game-playing with the actual outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic within a couple of months has of course provoked an array of mostly right-wing claims that the whole thing is either a “false flag” bio-weapon attack, or a New World Order-Bilderberg plot for population reduction. Since the event was not “closed” door but covered by the media and remains posted on the Internet, it’s safe to conclude that such conspiracist thinking is opportunistic fear-mongering, which only obscures the more fundamental truth of class contradiction and capitalist impotence to overcome the inherent contradictions of their system.
The players and sponsors came up with seven major recommendation from their sobering “game”, excerpted here:
“1. Governments, international organizations, and businesses should plan now for how essential corporate capabilities will be utilized during a large-scale pandemic. During a severe pandemic, public sector efforts to control the outbreak are likely to become overwhelmed. But industry assets, if swiftly and appropriately deployed, could help to save lives and reduce economic losses.
- Industry, national governments, and international organizations should work together to enhance internationally held stockpiles of medical countermeasures (MCMs) to enable rapid and equitable distribution during a severe pandemic.
- Countries, international organizations, and global transportation companies should work together to maintain travel and trade during severe pandemics. Travel and trade are essential to the global economy as well as to national and even local economies, and they should be maintained even in the face of a pandemic. Improved decision-making, coordination, and communications between the public and private sectors, relating to risk, travel advisories, import/export restrictions, and border measures will be needed.
- Governments should provide more resources and support for the development and surge manufacturing of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics that will be needed during a severe pandemic. In the event of a severe pandemic, countries may need population-level supplies of safe and effective medical countermeasures.
- Global business should recognize the economic burden of pandemics and fight for stronger preparedness. In addition to investing more in preparing their own companies and industries, business leaders and their shareholders should actively engage with governments and advocate for increased resources for pandemic preparedness. Globally, there has been a lack of attention and investment in preparing for high-impact pandemics. Global business leaders should play a far more dynamic role as advocates with a stake in stronger pandemic preparedness.
- International organizations should prioritize reducing economic impacts of epidemics and pandemics. Much of the economic harm resulting from a pandemic is likely to be due to counterproductive behavior of individuals, companies, and countries.
- Governments and the private sector should assign a greater priority to developing methods to combat mis- and disinformation prior to the next pandemic response. Governments will need to partner with traditional and social media companies to research and develop nimble approaches to countering misinformation.
Accomplishing the above goals will require collaboration among governments, international organizations and global business.”
Goal #5 is especially interesting, because no known corporation has ever “invested” in anything absent the expectation of a financial return on investment, an increase in profits. That’s the nature of the beast. As one participant admitted on one of the videos, “nobody” manufactures goods for which there is not an immediate market (or at least no capitalist corporation operating under the iron laws of capitalist competition). No corporations invested in preparations for COVID-19, despite its predictability, because there was no profit in such investments or production prior to the outbreak. If the COVID-19 outbreak had been a plot, you can bet the supplies, countermeasures, vaccines, etc. would’ve all been in place and ready to profit from, rather than having their worst nightmares of unparalleled stock market losses and economic contraction coming to life before their eyes.
Goal #6 is also telling and unusually frank. It would be naive to imagine that a panel convened by Gates and Bloomberg would prioritize anything other than “reducing the economic impacts of .. pandemics.” The idea that international organizations might instead want to prioritize public health and human survival would of course never cross their minds.
It would be an interesting investigative journalism project to see if any of the “players” in this table-top planning exercise has since contracted COVID-19. The guy on the lower right, just above the empty space below, is from the CDC. Stephen C. Redd is the Deputy Director for Public Health Service and Implementation Science at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Redd currently oversees the Center for Preparedness and Response; the Center for Global Health; the Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support; and the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity. Unfortunately, Trump gutted funding for the CDC before this “game” took place, and eliminated the Pandemic preparedness section of the National Security Council. Charged with coming up for a test for infection by the virus, instead of using the one from WHO, the CDC and the Food & Drug Administration failed massively.