6 October 2021 — Swiss Policy Research
How is the Davos World Economic Forum involved in the coronavirus pandemic?
WEF founder Klaus Schwab in 2014 (Alamy)
The Davos World Economic Forum (WEF) is a premier forum for governments, global corporations and international entrepreneurs. Founded in 1971 by engineer and economist Klaus Schwab, the WEF describes its mission as “shaping global, regional and industry agendas” and “improving the state of the world”. According to its website, “moral and intellectual integrity is at the heart of everything it does.”
The WEF has been involved in the coronavirus pandemic in several ways.
First, the WEF was, together with the Gates Foundation, a sponsor of the prescient “Event 201” coronavirus pandemic simulation exercise, held in New York City on October 18, 2019 – the same day as the opening of the Wuhan Military World Games, seen by some as “ground zero” of the global pandemic. China itself has argued that US military athletes may have brought the virus to Wuhan.
Second, the WEF has been a leading proponent of digital biometric identity systems, arguing that they will make societies and industries more efficient, more productive and more secure. In July 2019, the WEF started a project to “shape the future of travel with biometric-enabled digital traveler identity management”. In addition, the WEF collaborates with the Gates and Rockefeller-funded ID2020 alliance that runs a program to “provide digital ID with vaccines”. In particular, ID2020 sees the vaccination of children as “an entry point for digital identity.”
Third, WEF founder Klaus Schwab is the author of the book COVID-19: The Great Reset, published in July 2020, which argues that the coronavirus pandemic can and should be used for an “economic, societal, geopolitical, environmental and technological reset”, including, in particular, advancing global governance, accelerating digital transformation, and tackling climate change.
Finally, the WEF has been running, since 1993, a program called “Global Leaders of Tomorrow”, rebranded, in 2004, as “Young Global Leaders”. This program aims at identifying, selecting and promoting future global leaders in both business and politics. Indeed, quite a few “Young Global Leaders” have later managed to become Presidents, Prime Ministers, or CEOs (see below).
During the coronavirus pandemic, several WEF global leaders and global shapers (a junior program of the global leaders) have played prominent roles, typically promoting zero-covid strategies, lockdowns, mask mandates, and vaccine mandates. This may have been in a largely failed attempt to protect public health and the economy, or it may have been in an attempt to advance the global transformation agenda outlined above, or perhaps both.
In this regard, some notable Young Leaders include Jeffrey Zients (US White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator since 2021, selected in 2003), Jeremy Howard (founder of influential lobby group “masks for all”), Leana Wen (zero-covid CNN medical analyst), Eric Feigl-Ding (zero-covid Twitter personality), Gavin Newsom (Governor of California, selected in 2005), Devi Sridhar (British zero-covid professor), Jacinda Ardern (Prime Minister of New Zealand), French President Emanuel Macron (selected one year prior to his election in 2017), Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, German Chancellor Angela Merkel (selected back in 1993), and German Health Minister Jens Spahn.
To get a full overview of their members, see Global Leaders for Tomorrow and Young Global Leaders on WikiSpooks (a Wiki focusing on covert power structures) as well as the official Young Global Leaders website. For an overview of some notable members in politics and the media, see below.
In conclusion, the Davos World Economic Forum has indeed been involved in the strategic management of the coronavirus pandemic, with a major emphasis on using the pandemic as a catalyst for digital transformation and the global introduction of digital identity systems.
Annex: WEF “Young Global Leaders”
An overview of some WEF Young Global Leaders (2005-2021) and Global Leaders for Tomorrow (1993-2003) in politics and the media.
Politics and Policy
Jeffrey Zients (White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator since 2021, selected in 2003), Jeremy Howard (co-founder of lobby group “masks for all”, selected in 2013), California Governor Gavin Newsom (selected in 2005), Peter Buttigieg (selected in 2019, candidate for US President in 2020, US secretary of transportation since 2021), Chelsea Clinton (Clinton Foundation board member), Huma Abedin (Hillary Clinton aide, selected in 2012), Nikki Haley (US ambassador to the UN, 2017-2018), Samantha Power (US ambassador to the UN, 2013-2017, USAID Administrator, since 2021), Ian Bremmer (founder of Eurasia Group), Bill Browder (US-British financier), Jonathan Soros (son of George Soros), Kenneth Roth (director of Human Rights Watch), Paul Krugman (economist, selected in 1995), Lawrence Summers (US Secretary of the Treasury, 1999-2001, selected in 1993), Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza (selected in 2020).
CNN medical analyst Leana Wen (selected in 2018), CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, Covid Twitter personality Eric Feigl-Ding (a ‘WEF Global Shaper‘ since 2013), Andrew Ross Sorkin (New York Times financial columnist), Thomas Friedman (New York Times columnist, selected in 1995), George Stephanopoulos (ABC News, 1993), Lachlan Murdoch (CEO of Fox Corporation, co-chair of News Corp.).
Technology and Social Media
Microsoft founder Bill Gates (1993), former Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer (2000-2014, selected in 1995), Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (1998), Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page (2002/2005), former Google CEO Eric Schmidt (2001-2011, selected in 1997), Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales (2007), PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel (2007), eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar (1999), Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (2009), Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (2007).
Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand
Professor Devi Sridhar (a leading ‘zero covid’ proponent, selected in 2020/21), former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown (both selected in 1993), BBC World Service journalist Dawood Azami, Mark Leonard (founding director of the George Soros funded European Council on Foreign Relations), Lynn Forester de Rothschild (co-owner of The Economist), Nathaniel Rothschild (son of Lord Rothschild), historian Niall Ferguson (selected in 2005), William Hague (Foreign Secretary, 2010-2014), Charles Allen (CEO of ITV, 2004-2007; Chairman of EMI, 2008-2010).
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (since 2017, selected in 2014), Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland (selected in 2001; former managing director of Reuters). Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a WEF participant, but is not a confirmed Young Global Leader.
Chancellor Angela Merkel (selected in 1993, 12 years before becoming Chancellor), current Health Minister Jens Spahn and former Health Ministers Philipp Roesler and Daniel Bahr, current co-chair of the Green Party and failed Chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock (selected in 2020), former co-chair of the Green Party Cem Özdemir (selected in 2002), media mogul and Axel Springer CEO Mathias Doepfner (selected in 2001), talk show host Sandra Maischberger, late Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Guido Westerwelle (1997), former German President Christian Wulff (selected in 1995, 15 years before becoming President), Reto Francioni (former CEO of Deutsche Boerse), Klaus Regling (selected in 1993; CEO of the European Financial Stability Mechanism since 2012).
EU Commission Presidents Jose Manuel Barroso (2004-2014, selected in 1993) and Jean-Claude Juncker (2014-2019, selected in 1995), French President Emanuel Macron (since 2017, selected in 2016), former French President Nicolas Sakozy (2007-2012, selected in 1993), Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (2014-2016, selected in 2012), former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar (1996-2004, selected in 1993), Guy Verhofstadt (Belgian Prime Minister, 1999-2008, selected in 1993), Danish Minister for the Environment Lea Wermelin, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb.
Natalie Rickli (Director of Health of the Canton of Zurich, selected in 2012), former Presidents of the Swiss National Council Christa Markwalder (selected in 2011) and Pascale Bruderer-Wyss (selected in 2009), NZZ media group CEO Felix R. Graf (selected in 2007), former Swiss Justice Minister Ruth Metzler (selected in 2002), former Swiss television CEO Roger de Weck (2011-2017, selected in 1994), former UBS CEOs Peter Wuffli (selected in 1994) and Marcel Rohner (selected in 2003), former Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Tiam (1998).