The exercise was designed to test out responses to pandemics. The monkeypox outbreak was not predicted.
Context An article in the New York Post reports on a scenario planning exercise set up by the nonprofit Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) in 2021. The article suggests that the exercise is “eerily” similar to the current monkeypox outbreak. The piece has been boosted online alongside numerous claims that the monkeypox virus was engineered, planned, or predicted. This is not the case. In fact In the exercise, as with similar workshops run by the NTI, political and organizational leaders and experts are give an imaginary scenario and asked to plan a response. The aim is to improve preparation and resources for the event of a pandemic or other emergency situation. Similar exercises around scenario and risk planning have existed long before the monkeypox outbreak and COVID-19 pandemic, and are not “predictions.” In a statement, the NTI said it wanted to “set the record straight” on the rumors circulating online. It is true that the organization selected monkeypox as one of several available scenarios. “One of the factors in selecting monkeypox was the value of selecting a pathogen with different features than the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which encouraged exercise participants to consider issues beyond those that have already been highlighted by the current pandemic,” the organization said. The NTI wrote a report on the exercise, which can be found online. It highlighted that there were gaps around funding, research, and international preparedness for pandemics. The fact that monkeypox was chosen as a scenario was purely coincidental. Monkeypox is not a new virus. The first human case was detected in 1970 in the Republic of Congo. It is endemic in parts of West and Central Africa. Since May 17, 2022, 257 cases have been spotted in nonendemic countries, according to a report by ABC (May 31). The World Health Organization said that the outbreak will not turn into a pandemic. The verdict Scenario planning is not the same as prediction. These exercises are performed in order to improve global responses to pandemics and protect the public’s safety.