Wretched, terrible, destructive year, the remnants of the people alone remain."
It was the international disease gripped planet Earth during the Middle Ages. In just four years, from 1341 to 1351, the Black Death killed up to 200 million people in Europe, with the disease steadily advancing west across the Continent. As a fifteen-year-old, princess Joan of England was to be betrothed to Peter of Castile. As Joan of England disembarked at Bordeaux she ignored the warnings of Bordeaux’s mayor, Raymond de Bisquale that the Black Death had gripped Bordeaux.
The royal castle where the princess and her entourage had lodged were surrounded by hundreds of decomposing corpses of the pestilence. Those still in the Black Death's grip showed tell-tale signs of infection: buboes, often painful and swollen lymph nodes as large as chicken eggs under the armpits. Those sick people were coughing up blood, lying prostrate from the fatigue of struggling with the plague before collapsing and dying in the street.
Not even royalty was spared: Joan of England died after contracting the plague, changing the course of European royalty. One English survivor of the plague, reflecting on the Black Death in 1348-1349 scrawled on a church wall in St Mary's, Ashwell, Hertfordshire, "Wretched, terrible, destructive year, the remnants of the people alone remain."
The next black death could catch us all unaware. A major pandemic the likes that we have not seen nor experienced could cripple nations, shuttering major facilities, closing cities, and causing anarchy.
The trends of globalisation are increasing the risk of the emergence or re-emergence of zoonotic disease due to the movement of people and goods. Bill Gates has repeatedly warned that the world is not ready and that a global pandemic could kill as many as 30 million people in a timeframe of just six months.
A pandemic could be a natural occurrence or be due to the evil of bioterrorism. Even the Black Death was used by the Tatars as a biological weapon. The Tatars ordered cadavers riddled with the pestilence to be catapulted over the city walls in the siege of Caffa in 1346.
We are also in an age where antimicrobial resistance is threatening the effectiveness of antibiotics. Before antibiotics, bacterial disease meant higher mortality than is contemplated today. Further to that is the effect that climate change is having in disturbing hidden viruses and bacteria such as smallpox and anthrax. The pathogenesis for zoonoses (animal diseases that can infect humans) is attributable to our longstanding interactions with wild and farmed animals.
You may be asking what this has to do with the Identity Strategist.
It is about being strategic about your choices and taking advantage of circumstances as they arise or before certain events occur. CSL (ASX: CSL) made record profits on the hysteria of the Swine Flu outbreak in 2009. In 2014, during the Ebola outbreak, there was a rush of investor activity into trades of publicly-listed Ebola vaccine developers.
It is recognising that a catastrophic pandemic event will cause anarchy in every affected place, shut down roads and airports. A panicked populace will clean out stockpiles of canned goods, bottled water and cleaning products. Sick people will increase the chances of widespread infection. Supermarkets and pharmacies will be sold out of stockpiles of vaccines and probiotics. Businesses, schools and shops will be restricted or whole cities even closed.
There are three main things you can do to prepare for such a possibility:
We may not know when the next pandemic will strike, but preparing for the worse will put you in the best position.