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March 2021 Tabletop Exercise Simulated ‘Deadly, Global Pandemic Involving an Unusual Strain of Monkeypox Virus,’ Concluded With 270 Million Fatalities


The NTI (Nuclear Threat Initiative) published a paper titled, “Strengthening Global Systems to Prevent and Respond to High-Consequence Biological Threats,” in November 2021.

Results from the 2021 tabletop exercise were conducted in partnership with the Munich Security Conference.

According to their website, “The Nuclear Threat Initiative is a nonprofit, nonpartisan global security organization focused on reducing nuclear and biological threats imperiling humanity.”


Ted Turner launched The Nuclear Threat Initiative in 2001.

In early 2001, Turner launched the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a foundation he co-chairs with former Senator Sam Nunn. NTI is working to close the growing and increasingly dangerous gap between the threat from nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the global response.

Here’s a summary of the March 2021 tabletop exercise:

In March 2021, NTI partnered with the Munich Security Conference to conduct a tabletop exercise on reducing high-consequence biological threats. The exercise examined gaps in national and international biosecurity and pandemic preparedness architectures—exploring opportunities to improve prevention and response capabilities for high-consequence biological events. This report summarizes the exercise scenario, key findings from the discussion, and actionable recommendations for the international community.

What pathogen did the tabletop exercise simulate?


The NTI paper states:

In March 2021, NTI conducted a Tabletop Exercise on Reducing High-Consequence Biological Threats,
the third in a series of annual collaborations between NTI and the Munich Security Conference. The
exercise examined gaps in national and international biosecurity and pandemic preparedness architectures
and explored opportunities to improve capabilities to prevent and respond to high-consequence biological
events. The exercise included 19 senior leaders and experts from across Africa, the Americas, Asia, and
Europe with decades of combined experience in public health, biotechnology industry, international
security, and philanthropy. (See the box on page 9 for the list of exercise participants.)

Exercise Scenario

Developed in consultation with technical and policy experts, the exercise scenario portrayed a deadly, global pandemic involving an unusual strain of monkeypox virus that first emerges in the fictional country of Brinia and eventually spreads globally. Later in the exercise, the scenario reveals 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. The exercise scenario concludes with more than three billion cases and 270 million fatalities globally. As part of the scenario development process, NTI conducted a virtual consultation with experts in December 2020. (See Appendix A for the list of participating experts.)

The exercise was designed for participants to:

  • Discuss requirements for international architectures related to science-based, early assessment of emerging pandemic risks and timely international warning and alerts for potential pandemics.
  • Explore conditions that should trigger national pandemic response actions and discuss strategies and challenges for scaling public health interventions.
  • Consider options to reduce biotechnology risks and strengthen oversight of dual-use bioscience research.
  • Explore opportunities to strengthen international financing mechanisms to bolster global health security preparedness.

Who participated in the monkeypox pandemic tabletop exercise?

The usual suspects.

Participants included:

  • U.S. National Security Council
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Wellcome Trust
  • Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention
  • World Health Organization
  • Merck

Anyone remember Event 201?

The 2021 NTI-Munich Security Conference Tabletop Exercise smells like déjà vu.

Danish Biotech Company Orders 13 Million Freeze-Dried Smallpox-Monkeypox Vaccines, Fauci Once Gave $100 Million to Company for Smallpox Vaccine Research

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