“If this pandemic taught us one thing, it’s that we weren’t ready for it. The scientific and medical community wasn’t ready. The government, the military and industry weren’t ready. And most of us at home weren’t ready either: scrambling for basic supplies, regretting not having a deeper pantry and struggling with the financial fallout.” - Scientific American
Many Americans will claim they weren’t ready for COVID-19 because they never expected a pandemic to happen.
But truthfully, we should have expected it.
Scientists have been warning us about the possibility for years.
One such indication was the SPARS Pandemic Scenario training exercise that took place in October 2017.
This was a written report published by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security as a self-guide exercise for researchers to gain an understanding of what could happen if a pandemic occurred.
Those who read the 89-page SPARS Pandemic Scenario training exercise are shocked to see that it very closely resembles what happened with the COVID-19 pandemic, down to how it spread and how it became political.
The main difference is that the scenario took place in 2025 rather than 2020. Either way, the scenario accurately depicted how the world would respond to a pandemic, such as COVID-19, a few years before it happened.
Maybe if we had taken heed and prepared, things would have turned out differently.
The Purpose and Fallout of the SPARS Pandemic Scenario 2025-2028
According to Johns Hopkins, the SPARS Pandemic Scenario 2025-2028 “is a training exercise, based on a fictional scenario. It is a teaching and training resource for public health and government officials so that they can practice responses and better protect the public’s health.”
In the scenario, Americans who traveled to Asia return home with an unknown, influenza-like illness. The CDC confirms it is a case of a novel coronavirus, SPARS-CoV, which there is little to no information about. SPARS is transmitted via respiratory droplets, and quarantine for infected or exposed individuals is recommended. The outbreak eventually turns into a global pandemic.
Due to the eerie similarities between the fictional narrative of the SPARS Pandemic 2025-2028: A Futuristic Scenario for Public Health Risk Communicators and the COVID-19 pandemic, Johns Hopkins released the following statement on December 16, 2021:
“The scenario is not a prediction: It is a teaching and training resource for public health officials, to help users envision problems that could plausibly emerge in the future, so that they can practice responses and better protect the public’s health. Any resemblances between the fictional scenario storyline and the COVID-19 pandemic are coincidental. The scenario was developed by experts in the clinical, epidemiological, sociocultural, and communication aspects of epidemic management, to assure the narrative’s scientific plausibility.”
Not the Only Hypothetical Scenario to Consider
Scientists, medical professionals, and government officials have been conducting various emergency scenarios, such as the SPARS Pandemic Scenario, since the 1918 influenza outbreak.
However, it is not just pandemic scenarios.
There have been other scenarios that are designed to help plan and prepare for events, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and fires.
These types of scenarios are training events that bring together a multitude of experts, such as engineers, scientists, medical professionals, emergency responders, and meteorologists.
Some of the more well-known scenarios are the HayWired Scenario, which details what will happen if a major earthquake hits Bay Area’s Hayward Fault, and the Hurricane Pam scenario, which sadly foretold what would happen if a major hurricane hit New Orleans prior to Hurricane Katrina.
Scenarios like these are designed to give public health officials a way to prepare and think through problems before they actually occur.
What the Experts Believe
These scenarios are important because experts believe these events will happen – they just don’t know when.
USA Today reports, “Scientists say a massive quake could strike the San Francisco Bay Area at any moment. And when it does, the city can expect to be slammed with a force equal to hundreds of atomic bombs.”
Continuing the earthquake scenario, seismologist Lucy Jones says, “The probability (of) this earthquake is 100% if you give me enough time.”
These mass destructive scenarios are necessary to prepare for because experts believe the impacts will take years to overcome (just look at how we are still feeling the effects of COVID-19 three years later).
Should a major earthquake or hurricane like Katrina happen, it will take years to rebuild.
USA Today continues, “A major West Coast earthquake isn't just damaged buildings and cracked roads. It's weeks or months without running water in areas with millions of people. It's mass migrations away from ruined communities. It's thousands of uninhabitable homes.”
We can’t live as though the worst is over. We must keep preparing for what the future holds.
Personal Responsibility Is Key
Here’s the thing. We can’t rely on the people at the top to learn from COVID and prepare for the next disaster. It takes time and money to implement new programs – and we can’t count on that happening.
The key to preparedness is personal responsibility. We must choose to be self-reliant. We must prioritize preparedness for our families. No one else is going to do it for us.
We all should do the following to better our chances during future pandemics, natural disasters, or warfare.
- Have an Emergency Plan. Create a clear emergency plan identifying evacuation routes, local shelters, and important contacts.
- Get Your Finances in Order. COVID-19 was devastating financially. Protect your finances by paying down debt and building up your cash reserves.
- Take Care of Your Health. Should the next disaster be another health pandemic, how healthy you are will make a difference. Eat healthy, exercise, and get to know your primary care doctor.
- Practice Good Hygiene. Teach your children how to practice good hygiene, such as washing hands and covering coughs.
- Fight Misinformation. One of the most difficult parts of the pandemic was sifting through misinformation. Be aware of misinformation, know the signs of fake social media campaigns, and find trusted sources today.
Invest in Preparedness
When COVID-19 hit, we all went a little crazy shopping. We hoarded far more than we needed and wasted far too much time and energy running all over town trying to find yeast.
Instead, invest in preparedness supplies and basics today, so you don’t have to panic shop when disaster strikes.
- Buy a Water Filter. We can’t predict when your water supply will be affected, but it will happen at some point. It’s better to invest in a water filter than to risk not having access to clean water when you need it.
- Stock Up on Long-Term Emergency Food. Remember at the start of COVID-19 when grocery stores ran out of yeast and then shelves had fewer and fewer products as the supply chain was crippled? A pantry stocked with long-term emergency food will give you peace of mind for years to come (or until the time comes when you need it).
- Purchase Power Supplies. It is becoming more common for people to lose electricity, whether from old grids unable to keep up with the demand or attacks on grids. Purchase power supplies, such as solar chargers, to be prepared.
- Invest in Communication Gear. Communication is always critical during an emergency, but it doesn’t mean you will be able to communicate easily. Investing in communication gear, such as chargers, hand-crank weather radios, and walkie-talkies, will prove worthwhile during a disaster.
- Keep Basic Essentials on Hand. There are some essentials you should always have on hand in the event of an emergency. These include food, water, flashlights, first aid kits, prescription medications, OTC medications, vitamins, antibacterial wipes, cleaning supplies, sanitation supplies, and hygiene supplies. If you have these essentials on hand, you won’t panic when they run out in stores when the next disaster hits.
Don’t panic. Prepare, friends.
Elizabeth AndersonPreparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply