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Mapping Wild Cards

Inspired by: workshops/meetings » Killer Virus

version: 2 / updated: 2010-08-03
id: #938 / version id: #930
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Originally submitted by: Sivert von Saldern
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Source of inspiration


iKnow workshop country name


Workshop date

May 2010

The source of the Wild Card is

Discussion on wild cards in the health working group.


(max. 9 words)

Killer Virus


(approx. 150 words)
Please describe the Wild Card (approx. 150 words)
A highly infectious and lethal virus appears and spreads out around the world fast due to the high mobility of the world population. The number of casualties is high and rises constantly, leading to massive social problems. The impacts are vast on all areas of life.


Killer Virus, Virus, Pandemic, World Population, Casualties


(max. 250 characters)

A highly infectious and lethal virus appears and spreads out around the world fast due to the high mobility of the world population. The number of casualties is high and rises constantly, leading to massive social problems.


Closest timeframe for at least 50% likelihood
Please use one of the following options:

Features of life if the wild card manifests

Feature 1: business models and industrial environment
The global economy might be highly negatively affected. Depending on the number of infected people, entire factories and production plants might stand still, leading to massive financial losses and possibly resulting in supply shortages of vital products.
Feature 2: education and research environment
The virus could be a trigger for for more intensified international cooperation regarding to research on virology, particularly on prevention measures, new effective vaccines and improved surveillance systems.
Feature 6: health and quality of life
The threat to people's health is enormous. This would probably lead to a high uncertainty in societies and fear of leaving one's home. Besides suffering from the unpleasent effects of the virus itself, infected persons might have to live under quarantine and thus get isolated and from daily life and society.
Feature 7: security and defence
Whole regions which are significantly affected by the virus might be put under quarantine and be cut off from their environment. This might lead to a high probability of social riots and a decrease of public security in affected areas.

Type of emergence

please select (if any) describe related trend or situation
A contemporary equivalent of past Wild Cards
(e.g. earthquake, tsunami or, similar to the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the USA breaks up into independent countries sometime between 2025-2050, for example)

Historical parallels

The last real pandemic dates back to the year 1918 and is generally known as the “Spanish Influenza”.

Type of systems affected

Human-built Systems - E.g. organisations, processes, technologies, etc.




please specify:
please select
Level 4: important for the whole world

Early indicators

(including weak signals)

Currently, two essential signals might indicate not only the appearance of a lethal and highly infec-tious virus but also its devastating global spread. At first, there is a rising number of highly infectious viruses, which could spread world-wide in a couple of weeks or even days. Most recent prominent cases were the avian flu and the swine flu. Fortunately, these viruses were not as devastating as feared and effective vaccines were developed in time. The second essential signal or indicator particularly concerns the latter point of vaccines. Regarding to the avian and the swine flu, there was evidence that a growing number of infected persons were resistant against particular antiviral vaccines. I cannot be ruled out completely that prospective mutations of such viruses are fully re-sistant and lead to a large number of casualties.

Latent phase

Obstacles for early indentification

information/communicational filters (media/editorial interests, language, reasoning)

Manifestation phase

Type of manifestation

In a probably pervasive way (contagious or transmittable)

Aftermath phase

Important implications
Transformation of a system (e.g. new applications, change in stakeholders relations/influence)

Relevance for Grand Challenges

where? please justify:
particularly relevant Europe world
Ageing and other demographic tensions
Behavioural change
Coexistence and conflicts
Diseases, health and well-being
Food security and diet
Social exclusion & poverty
Social cohesion and diversity
Urban and rural dynamics

Relevance for thematic research areas

please justify:
particularly relevant
Regional development

Pan-European strategies potentially helping to deal with the wild card

please justify:
particularly relevant
Facilitating and promoting knowledge sharing and transfer
Increasing the efficiency and impact of public research through Joint Programming (i.e. combining national and pan-European research efforts) or the optimisation of research programmes and priorities, for example.
Fostering and facilitating coherent international cooperation in science and technology

 Features of a research-friendly ecology contributing to deal with the wild card

For further information about 'research-friendly strategies' click here

please justify:
particularly relevant
Creating a closer link between researchers & policy-makers
(e.g. supporting both thematic and cross-cutting policies, highlighting the strategic purpose of the European Research Area, etc.