Thursday, December 06, 2007

The $2 Trillion Pandemic

Human Death Toll For 2007 Down On 2006 Figures

The Acting Vice President of the World Bank has warned that a global bird flu pandemic could lead to more than 35% of the workforce being absent and cost some the global economy some $2 trillion.

From AFP :

The risk of a pandemic was still as great as it was two years ago despite improvements in the capacity of many countries to respond to the infection, a joint report by the United Nations and World Bank said last week.

"The global economic costs could be between 1.5 to two trillion dollars," Peter Harrold, acting Vice President of the World Bank, told an international conference on avian flu in New Delhi that wraps up Thursday.

More than 600 delegates from 105 countries are in New Delhi to discuss preparedness and challenges in fighting avian flu.

"About 20 percent of the global population will be affected during the next pandemic," Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organisation, told the gathering.

Chan said 28 million people may need medical care over a relatively short period and worker absenteeism could reach 35 percent of the work force.

Forty-eight people died of the infection in 2007, down from 71 in 2006, according to the WHO, and experts said outbreaks were also being detected more rapidly and responses have become more effective.

Twenty-six countries reported flu outbreaks in birds in 2007, of which four -- Bangladesh, Ghana, Saudi Arabia and Togo -- experienced them for the first time.

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