Pandemic ‘could wipe out 900 million people,’ experts warn

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A chilling simulation has revealed just how easily a new pathogen could wipe out a huge slice of the world’s population – up to 900 million people.

Researchers at John Hopkins University simulated the spread of a new illness – a new type of parainfluenza, known as Clade X.

The simulation was designed so the pathogen wasn’t markedly more dangerous than real illnesses such as SARS – and illustrates the tightrope governments tread in responding to such illnesses.

It could really happen (Getty)

American politicians played out the scenario – which was built to be extremely realistic – where a doomsday cult released a genetically engineered virus.

By the end of the simulation in May, representing 20 months after the start of the outbreak, there were 150 million dead around the world – and no vaccine.

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Eric Toner of the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health Security says the world was ‘lucky’ the SARS outbreak wasn’t worse.

Clade X was designed to spread about as easily and kill a similar percentage to SARS, Toner says.

Toner told Business Insider, ‘I think we learned that even very knowledgeable, experienced, devoted senior public officials who have lived through many crises still have trouble dealing with something like this.’

‘And it’s not because they are not good or smart or dedicated, it’s because we don’t have the systems we need to enable the kind of response we’d want to see.’





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