The Byzantine flu is the name of a disease that was a global pandemic that began in 2010 and hit its peak in 2012. It received its name because it was most prominent in the Byzantine Empire, especially the city of Nicomedia, where it played a role in the eventual downfall of Emperor John Comnenus. It also directly affected numerous other events, such as the near total collapse of the entertainment industry in many places around the world ("The Day The Music Died"), the cancellation of the 2012 Cricket World Cup (which was to take place in Mumbai) and other events of social unrest that became known as the "nororiots".
At its peak, the flu was estimated to have infected almost 7.5 billion people worldwide and was responsible for over one billion deaths, making it the deadliest pandemic in human history. Despite its name, the Byzantine flu is caused by a strain of the norovirus, NoV GIII.2-Byz12, which was a novel strain at the time. Its origins are unknown, although since it was the first norovirus strain from cattle that infected humans, researchers strongly suspect it emerged from the consumption of unprepared beef.
No universally accepted treatment or vaccine exists for the Byzantine flu, with most countries solely resorting to containment and isolation measures to stop its spread. This means that outbreaks- especially devastating ones- still occur from time to time. Roman researchers have asserted they have developed vaccines, medicines and other therapeutic options for the disease (all of which have been approved by Roman authorities for use in their territories), but the Virtue Federation has rejected these findings. In Casara, the government has approved certain treatment options, but no vaccine has been approved there.
Disease overview Edit
Like many other strains of the norovirus, the Byzantine flu spreads mostly through fecal-to-oral contact, with the primary route of spread being contaminated food and surfaces, particularly in dining rooms, kitchens and restrooms. The disease can aerosolize, doing so usually after an infected person vomits, has flatulence or if the toilet is uncovered after it is flushed. This means that the Byzantine flu could infect hundreds, if not thousands, of people in a single area almost instantaneously. Closed quarters are more ideal for the spread, as outdoors the disease dissipates more rapidly.
A major cause for debate among researchers is the incidence of asymptomatic transmission. Some researchers conclude that, even after someone has recovered from the disease, they can still spread the disease for up to 20 days, as the body "sheds" the disease and forces the disease to find a new host. Other researchers contend that someone who has recovered can still be infectious for as little as five days or as long as 127 days after infection, depending on the body's ability to shed the disease. Roman researchers have debunked the idea of asymptomatic transmission as have the Casarans, though Virtue authorities maintain it still happens and recommend anyone diagnosed with the Byzantine flu to quarantine themselves for 10 days after recovering from the disease.
A peculiarity of the disease is that there have been widespread reports of the Byzantine flu spreading via the respiratory and sexual routes, especially in the exchange of fluids. This has been speculated as the reason why the flu has managed to spread rapidly and become more deadly than other forms of the norovirus. Roman researchers have concluded the vast majority of these reports are conflations of sensationalized media stories, as the reports simply describe instances of when one's vomit gets into the respiratory tract and/or when sexual organs have not been properly cleaned. Though a few scientists outside of Roman lands have agreed with the Roman assessment, the consensus among health officials in both Virtue and Casara is to dismiss the Roman findings outright, calling them "faulty".
The majority of Byzantine flu cases are mild, with the disease abating after 1-3 days. Onset of symptoms usually begins within 12-48 hours after initial infection, as the Byzantine flu is processed by the body during its digestive process. Mild cases typically see the development of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain, which usually also causes general weakness, lethargy, muscle aches and pains, headaches and low-grade fevers. Migraines and a loss of taste have also been reported in mild cases.
More severe cases can lead to malabsorption, encopresis (the involuntary release of fecal matter), intestinal inflammation and other damages to the intestinal tract, which can require hospitalization to resolve. In the most critical of cases, sepsis, jaundice, kidney damage and pancreatitis can occur. The skin can also thicken, making intravenous tubes difficult if not impossible to insert. This means that, in order to facilitate the absorption of nutrients by the body, invasive enemas are needed in the patient. If the treatments fail, death results from multiple organ failure due to sepsis and the failure of the body to absorb nutrients.
The fatality rate of the Byzantine flu is disputed. The observed case fatality rate is around 6%, but Roman researchers believe that, if proper hygiene practices are followed, the real fatality rate is roughly the same as other, less dangerous forms of the norovirus (0.002-0.003%). Casaran researchers agree somewhat with Roman findings, believing that proper hygiene does reduce the Byzantine flu's mortality rate, but only to 0.25%, or a similar mortality rate to the actual flu.
However, a comprehensive review of various studies commissioned by the Love organ of the Virtue Federation claims that the fatality rate of the Byzantine flu is actually around 10-12%, suggesting that "pure luck" was the reason why the case fatality rate was lower. The findings by Love have been disputed by several scientists, particularly Roman ones, claiming they are tainted by methodological flaws as well as "confirmation bias".
Antibodies developed by the body after recovery give the average person immunity for six months. Because of this, Rome (the only nation that has approved a vaccine) advises its citizens to get vaccinated twice a year to gain maximum protection against the Byzantine flu.
No universally accepted treatment options for the Byzantine flu exists. Various countries- mostly those outside of Virtue territory- have approved treatment options of their own, including medicines and even vaccines, though none have gained widespread acceptance. The Virtue Love organ maintains that it has found "no credible, universal therapeutic for the Byzantine flu", telling doctors that their only treatment option is symptom management "to the best of your abilities".
In the Roman Empire, several provincial health centres and universities developed medicines of their own, with some developing vaccines. Early on, Roman authorities believed multiple options were needed to quickly quell the disease, and this strategy turned out to be successful. Of these therapeutics, the most successful have been the University of Rome's drug Ventrexat, developed early in Rome's epidemic, and the vaccine developed by the University at Buffalo, the Byznov Bullseye (so named because "Bullseye" refers to any vaccine developed by UB, while "Byznov" is short for "Byzantine Norovirus"). Those two are now the first choice among health officials across the Empire, though the other products developed for the Byzantine flu are used if patients need them. A vaccine is not required in Rome, although those with compromised immune systems as well as those who work in the food and hospitality industry are encouraged to get vaccinated.
In Casara, researchers at the University of Tepitilan developed their own drug, Comaset, which turned out to be effective in containing their own epidemic. Since then, the Casarans have also taken to importing Ventrexat, which they also use for treatment. The Casarans have yet to approve a vaccine for treatment against the Byzantine flu, although clinical trials for the Byznov Bullseye began in 2018 and are ongoing.
The Byzantine flu was first discovered in 2012, although anecdotal evidence suggests that the disease had been spreading in rural areas of the Duchy of Muscovy and the Novgorod Republic as early as January 2010. Because the strain originated in cattle, it is suspected that the first case came from consuming contaminated beef. The first confirmed cases of the Byzantine flu were diagnosed on January 8, 2012, when over 114 members of a Byzantine Christian missionary group were admitted to the hospital at the Constantine The Great International Airport in Constantinople. Each member complained of stomach problems at the hospital, reporting the onset of symptoms either during or shortly after their flight which had originated in Moscow. 25 of the patients in that initial group died, though all were over the age of 80 and had other underlying medical conditions.
Spread in Byzantium Edit
The hospital and eventually the airport became the epicentre for the spread of the illness, with caseloads ballooning into the thousands in merely a couple of days. Byzantine Emperor John Comnenus ordered the airport shut down and redirected air traffic to nearby Adrianople, though this failed to stop the spread. By February 1, some 1,067 cases had been reported in the Byzantine Empire with 195 deaths, forcing John to place the entire country on lockdown beginning on February 5. John ordered all businesses across Byzantium to close with their assets officially seized by the Byzantine government, with only workers working in utility services (such as water and electricity), banking and healthcare (including researchers) to continue their jobs. The Byzantine Army then handled all other matters, including the delivery of essential goods to the citizens. To help with demand, an Internet application for both personal computers and smartphones was developed for citizens to request items, such as groceries, that they needed, and the Army hired some 500,000 civilians to facilitate these new tasks. Byzantine citizens were initially ordered to stay completely inside their homes, although this was later amended to allow for walks and exercise with a 2km radius of their home, but only within urban areas.
Despite the draconian measures (with some research even suggesting because of it), the spread of the Byzantine flu continued unabated. In the days leading up to Easter, the cumulative case total would surpass 400,000 and the death total would surpass 200,000, giving the disease a staggering 50.92% case fatality rate. John announced "there would be additional measures implemented" during his Easter Address, but did not specify what they were. Whatever measures they were seemed marginally effective at best, as the case fatality rate dropped below 40% but total cases surged past two million and total deaths passed the one million mark in early May. On May 2, the first of what would be later dubbed the "nororiots" occurred in Constantinople, where protesters- demanding answers from John- successfully smashed the gates at the Hippodrome and filled the arena for the first time in months. The Army spent days trying to disperse the crowd, eventually doing so on May 6 (when the virus' death total would officially surpass the one million mark), but it did little to ease tensions in the Byzantine Empire.
Global spread Edit
Virtue Federation Edit
The Virtue Federation recorded its first cases when a cluster of cases were discovered in London, England on January 10, 2012. The cases were connected to tourists who had just returned from Constantinople, and it was found that the toilet on the plane they were on tested positive for the disease. This initial batch of cases all completely recovered, with none of them receiving hospitalization. Because of this, English officials did not worry much about the virus, taking no action to stop its spread.
This critical inaction allowed the Byzantine flu to spread across the entire Federation essentially unabated. By January 22, the Love organ reported 19,116 cases across the Federation with 2,367 deaths. By early February, the disease's totals rose to over 100,000 cumulative cases and 10,000 cumulative deaths, leading to Love urging the same drastic measures that the Byzantines had imposed. The vast majority of Virtue's members followed suit by Valentine's Day, meaning that some 80% of the world's population at the time (12 billion out of 15 billion) were under some form of lockdown intended to contain the spread.
The first cases in Casara happened on January 22, 2012, when some 145 cases came from returning home from an Odyssey Tour cruise in the Mediterranean. The tour originated in Corinth where some Byzantine passengers were picked up- it is suspected that the virus infested the tour at this point. The cruise itself managed to escape major damage, as only 300 of the cruise's 7,000 passengers fell ill to the virus, but it was found that the team responsible for cleaning the cruise's third floor did an inadequate job, which proved to be the source for many of the cruise's cases.
Once on Casaran soil the Byzantine flu proved difficult to contain. A major factor in the Casarans' inability to handle the Byzantine flu stemmed from the fact that the vast majority of Casarans live in dormitory-style buildings provided for them by the government, as few Casarans- as is their custom- actually own their own home. This meant that lockdowns were inadequate as a containment measure, since the average Casaran lived amongst a large gathering to begin with. This meant that, despite Casaran authorities doing their best to improve sanitary conditions in the housing complexes, Casara still saw rapid rises in case totals, reaching over 1,000 cases and 200 deaths by mid-February. There were fears then that the Byzantine flu would wreck havoc on Casara to an even greater extent than it did in Byzantium, but Casara's overall healthier population and more advanced sanitation conditions and practices than the Byzantines (and Virtue as a whole) meant the reality was not that bad. Still, the worries sparked massive research projects into the disease, meaning Casaran researchers were the first worldwide to start developing medical interventions aimed at battling the disease.
The first Roman cases- 45 in total- stemmed from that same Odyssey Tour that produced the first Casaran cases. Of those 45, ten needed hospitalization, and two of them died.
Like the English- and some say, because of their rivalry, because of the English- the initial Roman response was one of inaction. This also allowed the virus to spread unabated across the Empire, and do so widely, with cases reaching 225 on February 11. Concerns did get raised, as an outbreak at a nursing home in Alexandria caused death totals to spike considerably, worryingly raising the case fatality rate in the Roman Empire to 58.52%, 8% higher than in Byzantium.
However, Roman Emperor Valerius IV ignored calls for lockdowns, as did numerous health and government officials across the Empire, though all of its allies except Iceland did impose lockdowns. The Romans took a more evidence-based approach, treating the Byzantine flu like other noroviruses, meaning they focused their efforts on improving sanitation conditions- already the best in the world- as a means of mitigation. This meant the virus' spread and potency were greatly reduced across the Empire as time wore on. However, in Egypt, where the Romans only had a protectorate and thus couldn't devote as many resources as they could elsewhere, the virus still proved to be a source of some difficulty. By March, Egypt wound up accounting for 70-75% of all Roman cases, as well 95% of their deaths. This spurred research efforts across the Empire for medical interventions, with Valerius pouring some
x1 trillion into those efforts.
By April, all major governments were in agreement that the Byzantine flu was a global pandemic, the first since the so-called Spanish flu of 1918-19. Over the next few months, the virus spread rapidly and exponentially worldwide.
In Byzantium, the disease hit its peaks at the end of April, but numbers remained steady well into May and into June. In Casara, new case totals peaked in mid-June, but new death totals peaked in mid-May, as Casara became more successful at treating the disease. Elsewhere, within the rest of the Virtue Federation and the Roman Empire, the pandemic hit its peak in mid-June, with numerous hotspots emerging. In addition to Byzantium, Virtue experienced hotspots in Germany, Scandinavia, Persia, Peru, Ireland, Australia, and the Niger River Federation, although every nation in the Federation experienced difficulty. Within Roman territory, Egypt was a particular sore spot, as the Byzantine flu rose rapidly there and accounted for 99% of the Empire's total deaths after April 15. In Casara, the capital, Tepitlian, was particularly hard hit owing to its density, but border areas with the NRF also experienced problems.
For the main article and a complete listing of Byzantine flu protests, see Nororiots.
With the disease spiraling out of control, numerous protests emerged that eventually came to be known as the "nororiots". The first known incident of the word came in the Glasgow Times on April 12, 2012, when writer Marsha McKinley weighed in on the Byzantine situation. In her piece, she believed that if Byzantine Emperor John Comnenus didn't get a handle on the disease soon, he would be faced with "nororiots very soon". McKinley claims she did not actually create the term, but is coy with where it actually originated from.
The first actual nororiot occurred on May 2-6, when protesters smashed the gates of the Hippodrome and filled the stadium's seats, for the first time in months. The Byzantine Army eventually managed to disperse the crowd, who were satiated when John pledged to come up with a solution "soon", even though he did not specify what that was. On May 11, more protests broke out across Byzantium in response to cities cancelling in-person celebrations of the Byzantine New Year, commemorating the Founding of Constantinople.
On May 15, two days after a report by the Roman Free Press claimed that Byzantine soldiers were routinely ignoring sanitation practices before delivering items, John pledged to review sanitation procedures as well as the Army's compliance to them. Though John was vague when asked what changes he implemented, whatever they were, they seemed to abate the disease's spread somewhat. The effects of this have been disputed by researchers, who claim that the spread in Byzantium simply slowed because the populace had increased immunity to the disease.
On May 29, the anniversary of the Fall of Constantinople, over 30,000 protesters gathered to surround the Palace of Daphne. At first, the protesters demanded what they had always demanded of John- some kind of tangible solution to the disease- but, later in the day, calls intensified for John to resign. This happened because the protesters and the Byzantine Army got engaged in violent confrontations in an event later described as the Citizens' Sack of Constantinople, which would last until June 12. Witness reports conflict on which party began the Sack, with Army officials stating the protesters became violent and the protest organizers insisting the Army "egged them on". Whatever the case, the entire city became a battleground for weeks, with lots of looting, pillaging, burning and other acts of outright disobedience taking place.
The Sack only ended after John agreed to meet the organizer of the protests, Peter Argos. Argos left the meetings satisfied, but after addressing his followers and outlining John's plan to contain the pandemic and end the lockdown, he was arrested and sent to the notorious prison, the Prison of Anemas, where Argos would state he was tortured every day. More protests erupted- though they were not as violent as ones during the Sack- calling for Argos' release, with Argos' cause later being taken up by John's daughter, Alexia.
Virtue Federation Edit
As the cumulative case and death tolls inched closer and closer to the one billion mark, many riots broke out elsewhere across the Virtue Federation. The most notable of these were the Summer of Tears in the Mongol Khanate, where weekly- and sometimes even daily- protests were brutally and unashamedly put down by the Mongol Army, with millions dying over the summer months. Other notable protests were the Trafalgar Square Riots in London in June and July and the Protests at Darius' Gates in Persepolis in the first two weeks of August, where millions battled local law enforcement and military units for days on end.
Overall, from April 1 to November 22, 2012, the Virtue Protectors report having engaged in 42,619 different operations across the Federation at this time, deploying some two million troops in the process. Anecdotal evidence and other research has shown that these totals are vastly under-reported, as the Protectors may have been engaged in over 100,000 different operations- many of them clandestine- with over ten million soldiers deployed. It is suggested that Virtue under-reported its operations to hide its numerous human rights abuses during this time, of which abundant evidence exists.
In Roman territory, the only significant riots occurred in Egypt, but these proved difficult to contain. Right from the outset, Egyptian activists called upon Rome to withdraw its troops and grant Egypt its independence, calls that only got louder as the disease continued to spread in the country. Caesar Valerius at first stated that "independence was off the table" on February 22, but on June 2, at a press scrum, Valerius stated he was now "thinking about it".
As the summer wore on, the Egyptian independence movement gained momentum, continuing to do so even after the Romans managed to control the pandemic in the country. Anger mounted over Valerius' mishandling of the pandemic in the country, leading to a terrorist attack at the Vatican in 2013 followed by an attempted coup by the attack's organizers, Cardinal Wilhelm Claes and Decius Tarsus. The Roman Army invaded and successfully defeated the coup attempt, but public opinion forced them to eventually recognize Egyptian independence on October 15, 2013.
While there were no violent protests in Casara concerning the pandemic, the Casarans engaged in a unique series of protests during the summer known as the Forbidden Raves. Here, in defiance of public policies prohibiting mass gatherings in Casara, thousands would gather in each city and town across the Casaran Empire, throwing massive, rave-style events that literally went day and night. They first began in the southern Fezzan outpost of Migan at the end of March before eventually spreading across the Empire by the middle of June.
The organizer of the event in Migan, Krisa Starcos, stated she wanted to stage the events to prove to Casaran officials that these events- with proper precautions- could still take place. Starcos based her explanation on the Roman model, as she noted the Romans were successful at containing the Byzantine flu (outside of Egypt) without having to ban gatherings. She also noted that banning gatherings went against Casara's communal and friendly spirit, and she did not want the virus to change that. The Casaran Empress, Psyia Gdinuk, met with Starcos on June 12, and, days later, lifted the bans on gatherings, deciding to instead emphasize heightened sanitation measures, which helped changed Casara's fortunes for the better.
End of the pandemic Edit
On June 28, 2012, John was found dead in the palace. The official statement from his daughter- Alexia, who replaced him as Empress- was that John contracted the Byzantine flu and died days later. Others doubt this report, including Alexia's brother, Christos (whom John had exiled in 2010 for a failed coup attempt of his own), who believes that Alexia murdered John and used the virus- and public backlash against the Baselion- as a cover.
Still, news of John's death was greeted with general glee across the Empire, as there was now hope that perhaps Alexia could implement solutions that could actually work. In short order, Alexia did so, buying disinfectant from Birea that had proven to be effective against the virus there. Alexia also announced the creation of the "Product Inspection Service" that would ensure that products are properly cleansed before they are shipped out to consumers.
Alexia, however, did not impose an end to the lockdowns, believing that it was not "safe" to resume gatherings again. When she was questioned on this by a reporter who noted the Casarans and Romans were faring much better than Byzantium was despite not having a gathering restriction, Alexia dismissed the reporter outright, simply stating that the Casarans and Romans were "dancing to their graves".
The quote would metaphorically hang over Alexia's head for weeks, as pressure mounted across the Empire by businesses eager to reopen. Alexia, too, was eager to get the Byzantines "back in business", but Love was still telling the entire Virtue Federation that it was "too early to lift restrictions".
By August, with most of Byzantium's tourist-dependent economy teetering on the brink of complete collapse, Alexia made the decision to slowly reopen the country's businesses, beginning with businesses dealing with vital services- like grocers and gas stations- as well as parks, beaches and monuments. She did this despite the strong advice of Love not to do so, with Alexia asserting she could proceed because Byzantium was more "ahead of the curve" than the rest of Virtue was. Love's own researchers predicted that the Byzantines were then headed towards a "second wave", with the virus predicted to peak again in a month.
However, the months passed and the virus spread less and less across Byzantium. By September, new case totals were in triple digits and, by October, they decreased to double digits before moving to single digits towards the end of the month. On October 31, the Byzantines reported their last two cases and their last death of the Byzantine flu, and after two weeks of no new cases or deaths, Alexia reopened the country completely and declared the Byzantine epidemic "over". The date when the Byzantines declared the end to their epidemic- November 15- was declared a national holiday, a practice that continues to this day.
On May 2, Gdniuk approved Comaset, developed by the University of Tepitilan, making the drug the first one approved for treatment against the Byzantine flu. Re-purposing several factories to assist in its manufacture, the Casarans managed to get the drug out to its entire population in just ten days.
The results were dramatic. On May 12, the Casarans hit their highest single day increase in deaths with 115,011, with the disease having a mortality rate of 24.86%. Eight days later, the case fatality rate decreased to below 20%, and when Casara hit a new single day increase in the amount of cases on June 14, the case fatality rate dipped to 6.84%.
On June 17, Gdniuk lifted restrictions on public gatherings, instead deciding to focus on improving sanitation procedures across the Empire. The result was a significant decline in the number of new cases, so much so that when complications arose surrounding Comaset, health officials were still not worried about their ability to contain the virus. New case rates dipped to four or five digits during the summer after being at six digits in the spring, and by fall the totals dropped to double digits. On November 14, Casara recorded its last new cases of the virus, and on November 17, the Casarans recorded their last new deaths. On December 1, Casara declared itself "Byzantine flu-free" and declared a "national day of mourning for those who died from the disease", an observance they continue to recognize.
The end of the Roman Empire's side of the pandemic is one of two stories. In most of the Empire and its allied territories, by May numerous researchers and universities had developed a wide array of medical interventions to curtail the Byzantine flu, with several drugs and vaccines available. The entire months of May and June were spent inoculating the Roman populace, meaning the Byzantine flu was nonexistent across most of the Empire by July 2, with Rome's allies able to lift lockdown restrictions by mid-July.
In Egypt, the story was different. Despite Rome's best efforts, the country- which Rome reacquired after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989- was woefully undeveloped, owing to decades of corruption and fiscal mismanagement. So when Rome tried to improve sanitation efforts in Egypt as a way of combating the virus, it required a lot more work than in the rest of the Empire, meaning the virus spread quicker and more widely in Egypt than it did elsewhere in Roman territory. The Romans did have one positive in Egypt- because of the outbreak in February at the Alexandria nursing home, they were able to get their primary drug of treatment, Ventrexat, out to market sooner, with the Egyptians being the beneficiary. By February 8, the new death rate plummeted in Egypt as the drug contained the outbreak, as well as keeping the mortality rate low even though the disease continued to spread.
Eventually, in mid-June, vaccines became available in Egypt for the first time. There is some debate about why it took so long for Egypt to get a vaccine while the rest of the Empire had it first, as Roman authorities blamed their Egyptian counterparts for the delay while the Egyptians did the same with Roman authorities. There were issues with Egyptian facilities and their ability to store and produce the vaccines, as well as logistical issues in Egypt's hinterland at getting the vaccines available to those residents. There was also massive distrust among Egyptians towards the Roman government, so inoculation was not universal.
This meant that containment in Egypt was a struggle, but eventually the Romans managed to flatten the curve there. By October, officials managed to get new case counts consistently below four digits for the first time, and by the end of October, it had fallen into double digits. On November 13, Egypt recorded its last new death and a day later, recorded its final new cases. On November 24, Valerius declared Rome "virus-free", with the day becoming a "day of commemoration" for those who had suffered from the disease.
Virtue Federation Edit
The end of the pandemic across the rest of the Virtue Federation is unclear. Love stopped tracking cases and deaths by individual countries on June 4, stating the "information was not needed", although Virtue's Family- Byzantium, Bactria, England, the Mongol Khanate and Birea- continued to provide records of their own counts, as did several other countries such as Carthage, Rhum and Great Zimbabwe.
What is clear is that Love recommended harsh lockdowns in its member territories until August 22, and most followed suit. On that date, Love changed its recommendation to allow its member nations to gradually reopen their economies, but only if they "could so safely". By mid-September, most of the developed nations had largely eradicated the virus, though outbreaks still occurred.
At this stage, accurate information regarding the virus is tenuous at best. Accusations ran rampant through October and November that Love was under-reporting its cases, and on November 27, it mysteriously stopped reporting any new cases or deaths at all, despite the fact they had recorded 442 new cases and 97 new deaths the prior day. Virtue also did not declare their epidemic "over" even though through the first week of December they did not record a single new case or death. Speculation has it that member states were eager to regain tourists as a way of reviving their economies, although, for many countries, the harsh measures meant they were unable to recover from them.
Virtue's response to the pandemic has been criticized. Despite mounting evidence that increased sanitation was a better mitigation agent than lockdowns, Love continued to stress the quarantines instead of looking to improve their sanitation practices. Love countered by saying that many of its member states had issues that "prevented proper sanitation", although it did not specify what they were. Love was also criticized for not developing drugs or vaccines to treat the Byzantine flu, as well as for not importing ones that had proven successful. Love responded to this by stating that it found "nothing that could actually beneficial" and stated there were "issues in other nations' treatment options", but they did not clarify those remarks.
"Give The Flu The Blues" Edit
Main article: Give The Flu The Blues
On December 8, 2012, a massive festival called "Give The Flu The Blues" was staged in many cities and towns worldwide, broadcast on live TV and streamed on the Internet. The impromptu festival was arranged quickly by millions of promoters from around the world with performances from many of the world's top performers. The festival was arranged with the intention of celebrating "the end of the Byzantine flu" as well as kickstarting the economies of affected nations.
The festival proved to be a massive success, generating trillions of dollars in worldwide revenue, with the festival now held each year on December 8.
Post-2012 outbreaks Edit
Because only the Roman Empire has an approved vaccine available, the Byzantine flu still flares up around the world from time to time. All have been localized in nature, confined to a single event or a single facility and rarely breaking out into the wider community. The harshest of the post-2012 outbreaks was the 2015 outbreak in Riga, which placed the entire city on lockdown and threatened to spread in the rest of Latvia, although those fears turned out to be unfounded.
Effects of the pandemic Edit
Overall economic effects Edit
The 2012 pandemic was the first time the global economy suffered a contraction, spurred mostly by lockdowns across the world. Unemployment rose sharply worldwide, with job levels not recovering to pre-2012 levels until 2015. Many businesses were also forced to close as a result of the Byzantine flu, although entrepreneurial activity did recover to pre-2012 levels by the end of 2013.
Though most industries took a huge hit as a result of the pandemic, none took a greater hit than industries that rely on gatherings, such as tourism, hospitality, festivals and event planning (as well as non-profit gatherings such as religious services and city events), as much of the world banned gatherings of any size in order to deal with the pandemic. It wasn't until 2016 that the event industry recovered to pre-2012 levels, even in Rome, as economic hardships incurred by most of the world meant there were fewer tourists willing to travel.
Sports and other forms of live entertainment did manage to continue during the Byzantine flu, although performances were made in the absence of fans. Only in the Roman Empire and Iceland were there no interruptions at all in their live entertainment seasons.
Rome vs Virtue Edit
The pandemic is seen as a turning point in Rome's "cold war" with Virtue, which has been ongoing since Virtue was founded in 1994. Because Rome's response to the pandemic meant it did not have to shut down its economy and because it eradicated the Byzantine flu quicker than Virtue did, the Romans' economy managed to continue its pace of growth in 2012 with only minor disruptions whereas Virtue took a significant hit.
Crucially, though, was because Rome fared much better than Virtue did in handling the pandemic, investor confidence in Roman businesses and business opportunities increased while souring on Virtue. This is most highlighted by the Casarans' decision in recent years to get closer to Rome and further from Virtue. Before the Byzantine flu, Virtue courted the Casarans because if Casara had joined, it would tip the balance of power towards Virtue and away from Rome. However, the Byzantine flu experience showed Casara that Rome was easier to work with, and thus the two nations have come closer together since the pandemic ended.
Egyptian independence Edit
Not all was lost for Virtue, as the Egyptian independence movement proved to be successful in early 2014. Immediately after the withdrawal of Roman troops, Egypt joined Virtue, and, although its economic strength paled in comparison to Casara's, it did help tip the balance somewhat back to Virtue. However, Virtue is learning the same lessons Rome did about Egypt's dysfunction- the problems are deeper and harder to solve than most realize.
Collapse of cricket Edit
One sport that was hit harder than the others was cricket. As the sport is predominately played in the former British Empire territories, its major leagues and competitions were all held in Virtue territory, including its marquee event, the Cricket World Cup. In 2012, the CWC was planned to be held in Mumbai in July, but on March 31, the CWC organizers announced they were cancelling the event. Rumours swirled about shifting the tournament to other places around the world, but none came to fruition. There were also hopes that the CWC could be held in 2013, although organizers were not optimistic.
Their hopes were further dashed when cricket leagues began dropping like flies as the pandemic progressed. At first, only minor leagues shuttered their doors, but the July 9 announcement that the Bactrian Cricket League was shuttering its doors was the harbinger of things to come. By September, the English Premier League, the Omani Elite League and the Birean League of Excellence all announced they were ceasing operations, as none were convinced that conditions would improve in time for them to be able to resume play without being insolvent. On September 16, 2012, the Indian Premier League- the top professional cricket league in the world- closed its doors for good, effectively spelling the end of high level competitive cricket.
One reason for the mass closures of cricket leagues was the fact no government was willing to provide bailout funds to the leagues, as governments worldwide didn't wish to be "subsidizing billionaires". The leagues hoped that by declaring bankruptcy they'd be able to gain access to government subsidies, but they found the process to be a bureaucratic nightmare. There was hope that the leagues could revive themselves by 2013 or 2014, but none have yet been able to do so.
Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar lamented at the death of the sport in 2020, feeding into the popular belief that governments tried to "gut" the sport. "Even when I played, it was hard to find a ground because cities kept bulldozing them," said Tendulkar to the Roman Free Press. "They kept saying 'the games take too long, we have better uses for the space's time' but it was all just an excuse for more gentrification. The Byzantine flu simply gave them an out."
In the same interview, Tendulkar hoped to revive the IPL by 2024, with the hopes the CWC can be revived then too.
"The Day The Music Died" Edit
Main article: The Day The Music Died
Even though many live music venues managed to stay open during the pandemic by running online shows without fans in the building, many venues were forced to close as a result of the Byzantine flu. Estimates vary, but it's predicted that as many as 30-40% of all venues worldwide closed as a result of the Byzantine flu.
Most of the closures occurred in the Virtue Federation, as Virtue's lockdowns were the longest and toughest worldwide. although no part of the world went unscathed. During the height of the Byzantine flu, attendance at live music events dropped precipitously, even in Rome, where attendance levels didn't return to pre-pandemic levels until October 2012. In Virtue, because gatherings were banned for almost the entire year across the Federation, many live venues decided to close up shop because they were only making a fraction of what they were when patrons were allowed in the venues. It's estimated that somewhere between 45-65% of music venues within the Virtue Federation closed because of the Byzantine flu, and the industry hasn't been close to recovering its pre-2012 levels.
Much like the collapse of the sport of cricket, there are accusations that Virtue used the pandemic as an excuse to close the venues for good, as cities wished to place more profitable buildings in their place. Gentrification had long been a thorn in the side of many entertainment venues, but cities often faced public backlash in trying to get rid of them. The Byzantine flu, though, meant this backlash wouldn't happen, as the public would "understand" why it was happening.
The tide is turning here as the Dresden Documents give further credence to the "conspiracy" angle here, although there is still much to prove.
Media works Edit
Main article: List of works made about the Byzantine flu
Numerous works of various types of media have been made about the Byzantine flu. Most of them are non-fiction, academic books, but some vehicles of entertainment have been produced either depicting the Byzantine flu or inspired by it.
The most popular of these works is Darius' Disease (2017), which reimagined the rise of the ancient Persian Emperor Darius III. The movie suggested that a plague (which was unnamed) ravaged the ancient world at the time, including the Persian Empire, and that Darius used this plague as a cover for murdering his predecessor, Artaxerxes IV and taking his throne. The movie then suggested that the subsequent unrest caused by Darius' actions was what allowed Alexander The Great to invade and eventually subjugate the Persian Empire. Many critics believed the movie was a commentary that suggested Alexia- just like Darius- used a pandemic to cover for a murder, which the producers don't deny. Alexia has not publicly commented on the movie.
Mitigation debate Edit
Main article: Medical quarantine
There is a fierce debate among scientists concerning whether or not the lockdowns imposed by Virtue were effective. Those in favour suggest that the only reason why Rome did not impose a lockdown across the Empire was because it is an advanced society that was "clean to begin with" and thus it was "unique" in the world in its ability to fend off the Byzantine flu. Lockdown supporters also point to Rome's issues in Egypt, where Rome tried to avoid implementing a lockdown, as further evidence for their efficacy.
Critics point to the fact that the North American Union, also a Roman protectorate and about as developed as Egypt was, did not suffer the same crisis that Egypt did, and accomplished this without a lockdown. They also point out that when Alexia encouraged better sanitation in Byzantium, that did more to stem the tide than the lockdowns did. Critics also point to the devastating economic effects Virtue's lockdowns imposed on their societies as well as the immense mental health issues it caused as reasons to avoid such mitigation techniques in the future.
"It doesn't matter what you call it," said Dr. Teresa Goodwin to the Glasgow Times in 2014. "After a while, a prison is still a prison- and people will respond accordingly to that."