Fact Check: 2017 Fictional 'SPARS Pandemic Scenario' Document Is NOT Proof Of A Planned Pandemic

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: 2017 Fictional 'SPARS Pandemic Scenario' Document Is NOT Proof Of A Planned Pandemic Hypothetical

Does the existence of a fictional pandemic exercise scenario conducted by the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University prove that the COVID-19 pandemic is a globalist plot for world domination? No, that's not true: Conspiracists are misrepresenting the design of this exercise and professional familiarity with various aspects of global health emergencies as proof that those professionals created and are controlling the pandemic for their own benefit.

The claim was presented in an "Emergency Saturday Broadcast" by InfoWars and has been redistributed through many channels. One edited version of the original video appears on Facebook in a post (archived here) published by "USA Update" on April 3, 2021 under the title "#AlexJonesShow HR2- EMERGENCY SATURDAY - World Shocked By SPARS 2025-2028 Document."

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Apr 6 17:11:07 2021 UTC)

The original InfoWars video, almost 94 minutes long, is posted on banthis.tv. It is titled, "Emergency Saturday Broadcast! World Shocked By SPARS 2025-2028 Document," and in the caption a link to the SPARS Pandemic document is offered. The intro caption also says:

A 2017 Johns Hopkins document details plans for Big Pharma global domination.
"This document is the holy grail. The key to defeating the globalist." - Alex Jones

That's clear from the start of the SPARS Pandemic scenario book (PDF) from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. At 89 pages long, it is formally titled, "The SPARS Pandemic 2025-2028 - A Futuristic Scenario for Public Health Risk Communicators." On page 6 of the PDF, before the preface, a full page is dedicated to this short disclaimer:

Disclaimer

This is a hypothetical scenario designed to illustrate the public health risk communication challenges that could potentially emerge during a naturally occurring infectious disease outbreak requiring development and distribution of novel and/or investigational drugs, vaccines, therapeutics, or other medical countermeasures.

The infectious pathogen, medical countermeasures, characters, news media excerpts, social media posts, and government agency responses described herein are entirely fictional.

In other words, it's all made up, including the name of the virus.

This document is an example of scenario planning, or scenario analysis. The preface of this fictional scenario describes a health emergency, and possible situations that could arise, specifically in the context of the digital era, when "social fragmentation and self-affirming worldviews" from the internet and social media platforms could play a role in outcomes. This type of scenario planning and analysis exercise is used in a wide variety of recreational and vocational settings. Role-playing exercises are not unique to public health.

The dramatic headline of this InfoWars video -- "Emergency Saturday Broadcast!" -- is clickbait. The existence of this "SPARS Pandemic Scenario" project, which Jones has mischaracterized as a plan rather than an exercise, has not been a secret, not in the medical world, the press or even among conspiracy peddlers. The release of this "self-guided tabletop training experience" was announced in 2017 in a news release by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. This October 23, 2017, posting, "Center for Health Security releases risk communications exercise scenario focused on medical countermeasures in a pandemic," remains listed among all the 2017 entries in the chronological archive of the center news.

On September 8, 2020, CNN Health published an article titled, "Experts predicted a coronavirus pandemic years ago. Now it's playing out before our eyes". In the article, the scenario-based teaching tool was described this way:

Reading the SPARS Pandemic Scenario is like reading an account of the Covid-19 pandemic. But the scenario wasn't an attempt to predict the future. Rather, it was meant to illustrate a broad range of serious challenges that public health communicators might face. The hope was that by working through these challenges as part of a training exercise, federal, state and local agencies would be well prepared to respond to a similar scenario in the future.

Other conspiracists have already seized on and misrepresented the detailed text of the communications exercise scenario months ago. Redditor "chinknadians-bumhole" posted on August 6, 2020, "Why is no one talking about this?" on r/conspiracy_commons. Diana-Lenska posted her video, "SPARS PANDEMIC SCENARIO 2025-2028 "WELCOME TO YOUR FUTURE!"" on BitChute on December 17, 2020.

In July of 2020 Lead Stories debunked a video of the president of Ghana that was manipulated with faked audio to misrepresent another instance of pandemic scenario methodology.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Southeastern Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


 

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