The Global Costs of an Influenza Pandemic

Alexandra A. Sidorenko and Warwick J. McKibbin
Warwick McKibbin
Warwick J. McKibbin Former expert - Economic Studies, Center on Regulation and Markets, Distinguished Professor of Economics & Public Policy - Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University

July 15, 2007


The deaths of 187 people in 12 countries through May 2007 from Type A (H5N1) avian influenza has raised fears that bird flu could trigger the next influenza pandemic – perhaps even one on the scale of the Spanish flu that swept the world in 1918. While we are in some ways better prepared to deal with a public-health emergency on this scale than we were a century ago, the integrated nature of the global economy – the dependence on global markets for goods, services and capital – may leave us more vulnerable to a pandemic’s accompanying economic shocks. We can estimate the economic consequences of pandemics, based on computer simulations incorporating what we know about influenza transmission and the likely response by governments, as well as by markets.