In early 2018, outbreaks of a novel parainfluenza virus erupted in Frankfurt, Germany and Caracas, Venezuela. United States soldiers serving abroad contracted the virus, and an exchange student returning to a small New England college campus triggered the initial cases in our country. The virus spread by coughing and caused severe symptoms in about half of those infected, killing 20% of severely ill patients. With no vaccination available, the novel virus spread rapidly across the globe. Within a year, the virus – Clade X – killed 15 million Americans and 150 million people world-wide.
This actually happened two years ago … in a tabletop exercise hosted by Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Washington D.C. Like its predecessors Dark Winter (2001) and Atlantic Storm (2005), the Clade X tabletop exercise featured subject matter experts in the unscripted roles of senior U.S. government officials reacting to a dense, unfolding fact pattern, based upon extensive scientific data and modelling, that realistically captured the likely variables and decision points in response to a national security crisis. This time the crisis was a global pandemic, and Clade X revealed significant gaps in our pandemic response preparedness.
Clade X was not our most recent pandemic test event. From January to August, 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ran the Crimson Contagion planning exercise, with officials from a dozen states, various federal agencies, and non-governmental organizations working through response to a simulated viral pandemic originating in China. Crimson Contagion’s findings were specific, blunt, and bleak, revealing widespread confusion between federal agencies and also between federal and state actors in coordinating response actions, such as in defining which workers were “essential,” handling school closures, and procuring sufficient personal protective equipment, ventilators, and medications.
Beyond “pre-mortem” exercises, post-mortem reviews identified our strengths and weaknesses in handling actual outbreaks, such as the July 11, 2016 NSC report capturing extensive lessons learned from our response to the 2015 Ebola outbreak.
The Lesson for Information Governance?
Continue Reading Pandemic Lesson 3 for Information Governance: Testing the plan matters