Great Pandemic of 2049
The Great Pandemic of 2049 refers to the release of the hybrid chimeravirus by religious extremists in 2049. The pandemic nearly caused the extinction of the human race in less than six months, but nearly 100 million people survived thanks to Asamov Immuno-Supplementation Microbots.
The chimeravirus was developed by an unknown Russian geneticist in 2048. Commissioned by the Christian extremist group 4 Horsemen, the geneticist created a hybrid of Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Ebolavirus, two of the deadliest viruses at the time, and combined them with Respiratory Syncytial Virus, an airborne virus that causes lower respiratory infections. 4 Horsemen intended to use the virus as a terrorist weapon in their cause to bring about the apocalypse, but records show that even they were not prepared for how deadly the virus would be.
Patient Zero was Eugene Reyes, a member of 4 Horsemen who called himself "Pestilence," after the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Living in Jerusalem, Israel, he purposefully infected himself with the virus with the intention of infecting the entire Middle East--where 4 Horsemen believed the final battle between the Antichrist and Jesus would take place--and eventually the world. He died three weeks later, with the pandemic just beginning to be apparent.
The virus showed a 100% mortality rate--no natural antibodies could combat the disease.
Being airborne, the disease spread quickly classified Biosafety Level 4 by the CDC). It is estimated that by the time the first patients started showing symptoms, 15% of the world was already infected. Quarantine efforts were useless. Even small, remote villages were unable to escape the disease.
Interestingly, the spread of the pandemic caused neither rioting nor panic; the human race seemed content to go to its end with a whimper instead of a bang.
Even early in the virus' spread, it became apparent that there was one population that was unaffected. Former sufferers of HIV and some who had undergone chemotheraphy who had allowed themselves to be installed with microbots seemed utterly unaffected. Analysis of the virus shows why: chimeravirus, in its initial stages, attacks white blood cells primarily, thus disabling any potential immune response in the later stages. Microbots, being of artificial construct, are invulnerable to retroviral attacks. Furthermore, microbots need not wait for the immune system to produce antibodies, but instead a "virus definition update," which the microbot's manufacturer, Asamov Nanotech, provided free of charge.
As effective as the microbots were, for those already infected, they offered no salvation. The "installation" of microbots takes several weeks, by which time the chimeravirus is already in its final stages. Used preventatively, however, an estimated 15 million lives were saved by having the microbots installed prior to infection.
Popular folklore has it that Reyes learned that the world AIDS population would survive his plague on his deathbed, to which he laughed and responded simply, "The meek shall inherit the earth."
The pandemic was over in less than six months, leaving a world population of barely 120 million humans. While the virus has run out of hosts, it is believed to remain dormant in several remote locations, necessitating the importance of installing microbots in each new generation.
As devastating as the pandemic was, like the bubonic plague of a millennium before, the survivors of the chimeravirus found themselves in a better world. At barely one percent of the pre-chimera population, the remaining world inhabitants were finally able to set aside their few remaining differences and join together into one World Government.
Many theorists believe our current era of peace, which has been ongoing for seven decades, is contingent on the world population not increasing beyond 250 million. Interestingly, given normal population patterns, the human race does not seem likely to push this limit any time soon--the world population has remained stable at approximately 150 million for the past two generations, which is even more surprising considering the average human lifespan has doubled since the adoption of microbots.