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The COVID-19 pandemic was not planned. A 2019 simulation of a virus outbreak was part of a preparedness exercise and was not a prediction of future outbreaks.
The claim originated in 2020 and has been previously debunked.
Two years ago, rapper Pitbull sat down for an interview and made an unfounded claim about the COVID-19 pandemic that went viral and was debunked. Now, his claim’s circulating again on social media.
During a Sept. 25, 2020 appearance on "Drink Champs," a podcast that’s also an internet and TV show, Pitbull, whose given name is Armano Christian Pérez, suggested that the COVID-19 pandemic was planned and that a 2019 simulation called Event 201 was a rehearsal for it. A clip from the interview resurfaced on Twitter on Aug. 22.
"There’s a rehearsal that went on before this whole s---, it’s called Event 201. October 8, 2019, this s--- came out," Pitbull said. "It was run by the Johns Hopkins University, which is in cahoots with Bill Gates/Melinda Gates’ foundation, and this was a complete rehearsal of what we’re (doing) right now."
Pitbull’s claim was fact-checked by multiple media outlets in 2020, and it remains untrue. Event 201 was a real meeting that simulated the effects of a pandemic. But its purpose was to help boost preparedness for any global outbreak.
We reached out to Pitbull’s spokesperson for comment but did not receive a reply.
Pitbull was correct about the details of Event 201: It was held Oct. 18, 2019, and was sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Economic Forum, according to the event website.
The 3.5-hour simulation featured a virus outbreak that started in Brazil with bats, and then moved to pigs and people before spreading to South America, the United States and many other countries.
Business, government and public health leaders were "players" in the exercise and were tasked with creating a policy response to the simulation.
"Exercises similar to Event 201 are a particularly effective way to help policymakers gain a fuller understanding of the urgent challenges they could face in a dynamic, real-world crisis," according to the event website.
Following the spread of misinformation about the event, The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security issued a statement about it in 2020.
Event 201 did model a fictional coronavirus, but "we explicitly stated that it was not a prediction," the center’s statement said. "Instead, the exercise served to highlight preparedness and response challenges that would likely arise in a very severe pandemic."
The family of viruses known as coronaviruses are common, and some types in addition to COVID-19 have also been serious, including SARS in 2002 and MERS in 2012.
In 2020, Pitbull suggested that the COVID-19 pandemic was planned and that a 2019 simulation called Event 201 was a rehearsal for it.
Event 201 was a real event held in 2019, but it did not predict or plan for the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a preparedness exercise to help global leaders respond to future pandemics.
We rate this claim False.
Twitter post, Aug. 18, 2022
AFP Fact Check, US rapper Pitbull falsely claims Covid-19 pandemic was planned, Feb. 11, 2021
Reuters, Fact Check-Examining claims made about the COVID-19 pandemic in clip featuring rapper Pitbull, March 12, 2021
Center for Health Security, About Event 201, accessed Aug. 24, 2022
Archived link, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Statement about nCoV and our pandemic exercise, accessed Aug. 25, 2022
PolitiFact, No, the virus that causes COVID-19 is not a patented bioweapon Nov. 5, 2021
Center for Health Security, Event 201, accessed Aug. 24, 2022
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Coronaviruses, accessed Aug. 26, 2022
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