Bio-ERA Announces New Multi-Client Study on Economic Implications of Influenza Pandemic

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New Research Effort to Examine Economic Impacts of a Pandemic Influenza Outbreak Originating in SE Asia and the Implications for Global Businesses and Regional Economies

Bio Economic Research Associates, or bio-era™ (, a leading independent research and advisory firm providing analysis on the future of the global bio economy, today announced its intention to undertake a multi-client study entitled “Thinking Ahead: Anticipating Economic Impacts of an Avian Influenza Pandemic”

The multi-client effort will concentrate on possible event trajectories in the first few months of a global influenza pandemic, and the global financial and business implications.

The goal of the study is to:

  • increase understanding of the economic impacts of an influenza pandemic
  • identify in advance key implications for business and industry, financial markets, governments, and investors
  • generate new insights, recommendations, and public/private alliances to improve preparedness by the global business community

Under the leadership and direction of bio-era Managing Director, James Newcomb, the study will deliver highly plausible detailed scenarios for the evolution of a pandemic outbreak, how government and public health agencies and institutions are likely to respond, and the direct and indirect impacts of each scenario on regional economies and selected sectors of the global economy, such as cross-boarder trade and travel, investment, insurance, financial services, and manufacturing.

Participants are expected to include major companies with significant market exposure to trade and economic disruptions, investors, public health officials, researchers and analysts engaged in business planning, risk managers, financial analysts, and government officials.

Avian Influenza and the Risk of a Global Pandemic

In the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami, public health experts, including those from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are warning that the threat of a global influenza pandemic is greater than ever. Recent events in Asia have created what some experts believe is a “perfect storm” of circumstances that increase the risk that an influenza pandemic could emerge. These circumstances include the endemic spread of avian influenza in domestic poultry populations, public health problems related to the tsunami, and the growing numbers of human cases of avian influenza.

According to WHO officials, recent epidemiological and laboratory studies suggest that the virus “may be evolving in ways that increasingly favor the start of a pandemic.” The virus has reportedly become hardier, surviving several days longer in the environment than earlier strains. It has also expanded its adaptability to a range of mammalian hosts, including humans, tigers and domestic cats.

If a pandemic flu emerges, the shock waves sent through the global economy would be immediate and far-reaching. The SARS outbreak in 2002–2003, which according to bio-era estimates may have caused economic damages upwards of $50 billion, provides the most recent reference point for understanding the implications for businesses and economic systems, and the speed with which some reactions are likely to take place. And, though the SARS event was significant, an influenza pandemic would likely have much more severe consequences.

Biology and Borders: Emerging Disease Risks in Context

Human disease risks fall in the context of, and are linked to, a broader range of biological systems and biosecurity risks that have been the focus of bio-era research and analysis activities over the past two years. (See bio-era reports, “Biology and Borders: SARS and the New Economics of Biosecurity”, and “Avian Flu: Evolving New Responses to Emerging Diseases” (Feb 2004).

Bio-era also participated -- together with representatives of the CDC, WHO, Wildlife Conservation Society and other institutions -- in meetings hosted by the Thai Ministry of Public Health this past November, on the linkages between human, livestock, and wildlife diseases. Bio-era also presented findings from its economic research to a special session of the World Conservation Congress (IUCN) on emerging disease issues.

The new multi-client study extends and deepens bio-era’s foundation of work on the potential economic and business consequences of a possible Avian Flu pandemic, in the hope of contributing to the preparedness of all participants.

Learning What to Watch

This project is designed to help stakeholders address the following questions:

  • What indicators should the business community be watching with respect to pandemic influenza?
  • If human transmissible H5N1 broke out in Asia, what specific actions (travel advisories, quarantines, travel restrictions, etc.) should we expect to be implemented by governments and public health authorities?
  • How would these actions impact regional and global economies, and businesses operating within and/or interconnected with, affected regions?

By using scenarios to describe the kinds of events that might unfold in conjunction with a pandemic flu outbreak, this project is intended to help better prepare participating organizations in developing their own preparedness and response strategies.

To enroll in the study, or for more information, please visit or contact Stephen C. Aldrich, President, at 617 876-2400, or James Newcomb, Managing Director, at 303 247-1171.


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