By Dennis Katungi
We now know there were simulations of covid-19 a year or two before the pandemic. This partly fanned conspiracy theories when the real virus struck. Klaus Schwab and Thiery Malleret write in their book COVID-19; The Great Reset that “if the past five centuries in Europe and America have taught us anything, it is that acute crises contribute to boosting the power of the state.
It’s always the case and there is no reason it should be different with the COVID-19 pandemic”. Here, they cited the work of author Richard Florida in his treatise, The Great Reset, written in the aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown. He argued that the 2008 crash was the latest in a series of Great world Resets – including the Long Depression of the 1870s and the Great Depression of the 1930s which were of “paradigm-shifting systemic innovation”.
Then in the 2014 annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, Schwab declared: “what we want to do in Davos this year is to push the reset button” and subsequently, the image of a reset button would appear on the World Economic Forum’s website.
Klaus Schwab, the hugely influential founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and Thierry Malleret, his co-founder lead the famous organisation- made up of the world’s political, economic and cultural elites that meet annually in Davos, Switzerland.
I mused over their writings as Uganda’s Legislature reportedly debated laws making Covid-19 vaccination mandatory. We have a population of 45 million people but only 12.7 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have so far been administered, according to the Ministry of Health.
In the UK, 50 million have been jabbed, 90% of those aged 12 and over. The population of UK is 67.22 million. Where do these statistics leave countries like Uganda in this story of the great reset?
Let me highlight the literature available on these important personalities of our time, especially on Covid-19. Schwab & Malleret define the Great Reset as a means of addressing the “weaknesses of capitalism” that were purportedly exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The specific phrase “Great Reset” came into general circulation over a decade ago, with the publication of a 2010 book, The Great Reset by the American author mentioned earlier (Richard Florida) and here is the Covid-19 faux pas. In May 2018, the World Economic Forum organised two events that became the primary inspiration for the current Great Reset project – and also fodder for conspiracy theorists. It collaborated with the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security to conduct a simulation of a national pandemic response. This mimicked the outbreak of a novel strain of a human influenza virus, with genetic elements similar to those of Covid-19. They called it “CLADE X”.
The simulation ended with a news report stating that in the face of this virus attack, without effective vaccines, the US would see 30/40 million deaths and more than 900 million around the world – 12% of the global population would perish. Clearly, by these results, preparation for a global pandemic was in order.
There was yet another collaboration, in 2019 by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Economic Forum termed: “Event 201”. This simulated an international response to the outbreak of a novo corona virus, two months before the COVID-19 outbreak in China became news and five months before the World Health Organisation declared it a pandemic. It closely resembled the future COVID scenario, including incorporating the idea of asymptomatic spread.
The CLADE X and Event 201 simulations anticipated almost every scenario of the actual COVID crisis, most notably the responses by governments, health agencies, the media, tech companies, and elements of the public. The responses and their effects included worldwide lockdowns, the collapse of businesses, the adoption of biometric surveillance technologies, an emphasis on social media censorship to combat misinformation, the flooding of social and legacy media, widespread riots, and mass unemployment.
They talked of the response to these viruses as the ‘Great Reset’ and applied this to climate change as well. This is why, in 2017, the World Economic Forum published a paper entitled, “We Need to Reset the Global Operating System to Achieve the [United Nations Sustainable Development Goals]”In June 2020, at its 50th annual meeting, the World Economic Forum announced the Great Reset’s official launch, and a month later, Schwab and Malleret published their book on COVID-19.
The book declared that COVID represents an “opportunity that can be seized,” an “unprecedented chance to reimagine our world”.
For big tech companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon – the crisis was not only more bearable, but even a source of profitable opportunities at a time of distress for the majority.
These world dynamics leave one wondering, where we are, in Uganda or Africa at large in this game of stakeholder capitalism. Are we spectators or participants? This brand of capitalism requires not only corporate responses to pandemics and ecological issues such as climate change, but Governments rethinking ways and means of lifting their vulnerable communities within their ecosystems.
This would be the social justice aspect of the Great Reset for the developing world. The paradox, however, is the divine intervention, Uganda and largely Africa was affected moderately by the pandemic compared to the devastating episodes we saw in Italy, Spain, and parts of the US.
Uganda is among the highly rated in its covid response, but will this make us part of the world re-set? Can we state, as Schwab does in - COVID-19: The Great Reset, that the pandemic “represents an opportunity” to be seized? What lessons have we learnt for the future? Uganda has had its fair share of regional threats that have kept it on the alert; such as Ebola and we are on fair ground for a quick response by the periodic outbreaks.
But we should, like the rest of the world, aim to seize the world changing opportunities brought about by the Covid-19 Reset. Like the theme of the 2030 sustainable development goals puts it; no one should be left behind.
The writer is Head of Communications & Media Relations at Uganda Media Centre. @Dennis_Katungi