Pacific Eclipse – A tabletop exercise on smallpox pandemic response

C. Raina MacIntyre, David J. Heslop, Phi Nguyen, Dillon Adam, Mallory Trent, Brian J. Gerber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: In December 2019, we ran Pacific Eclipse, a pandemic tabletop exercise using smallpox originating in Fiji as a case study. Pacific Eclipse brought together international stakeholders from health, defence, law enforcement, emergency management and a range of other organisations. Aim: To review potential gaps in preparedness and identify modifiable factors which could prevent a pandemic or mitigate the impact of a pandemic. Methods: Pacific Eclipse was held on December 9–10 in Washington DC, Phoenix and Honolulu simultaneously. The scenario began in Fiji and becomes a pandemic. Mathematical modelling of smallpox transmission was used to simulate the epidemic under different conditions and to test the effect of interventions. Live polling, using Poll Everywhere software that participants downloaded onto their smart phones, was used to gather participant decisions as the scenario unfolded. Stakeholders from state and federal government and non-government organisations from The United States, The United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, as well as industry and non-government organisations attended. Results: The scenario progressed in three phases and participants were able to make decisions during each phase using live polling. The polling showed very diverse and sometimes conflicting decision making. Factors influential to pandemic severity were identified and categorised as modifiable or unmodifiable. A series of recommendations were made on the modifiable determinants of pandemic severity and how these can be incorporated into pandemic planning. These included preventing an attack through intelligence, law enforcement and legislation, improved speed of diagnosis, speed and completeness of case finding and case isolation, speed and security of vaccination response (including stockpiling), speed and completeness of contact tracing, protecting critical infrastructure and business continuity, non-pharmaceutical interventions (social distancing, PPE, border control) and protecting first responders. Discussion: Pacific Eclipse illustrated the impact of a pandemic of smallpox under different response scenarios, which were validated to some extent by the COVID-19 pandemic. The framework developed from the scenario draws out modifiable determinants of pandemic severity which can inform pandemic planning for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and for future pandemics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalVaccine
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • veterinary(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases

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