This afternoon, the WHO declaredthat the swine flu outbreak in Mexico and the U.S. is a health emergency of international concern.
Reuters has put together a list of estimates of the economics costs that may be incurred if swine flu becomes a full out pandemic.
- The World Bank estimated in 2008 that a flu pandemic could cost $3 trillion and result in a nearly 5 per cent drop in world gross domestic product. The World Bank has estimated that more than 70 million people could die worldwide in a severe pandemic.
- Australian independent think-tank Lowy Institute for International Policy estimated in 2006 that in the worst-case scenario, a flu pandemic could wipe $4.4 trillion off global economic output.
- Two reports in the United States in 2005 estimated that a flu pandemic could cause a serious recession of the U.S. economy, with immediate costs of between $500 billion and $675 billion.
- One report, from the Congressional Budget Office, said hospitals would have difficulty controlling infection and might become sources for spreading the illness.
- A second report by New Jersey-based WBB Securities LLC predicted a one-year economic loss of $488 billion and a permanent economic loss of $1.4 trillion to the U.S. economy.
- SARS in 2003 disrupted travel, trade and the workplace and cost the Asia Pacific region $40 billion. It lasted for six months, killing 775 of the 8,000 people it infected in 25 countri
- Between the autumn of 1918 and the spring of 1919, 548,452 people died of swine a flu epidemic in the US. (Note there’s a bit of a debate about whether this was swine flu or some other kind of flu.)