Bio-era Launches Research Service on Economic Costs and Business Impacts of Avian Influenza

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Business Impact of Avian Influenza Pandemic Could Reach Hundreds of Billions of Dollars -- New Service will Monitor and Analyze Developments for their Economic and Business Significance

Bio Economic Research Associates, or bio-era™ (http://www.bio-era.net), a leading independent research and advisory firm providing analysis on the future of the global bio economy, today announced the launch of a four month multi-client research and advisory service to track the potential economic and business impacts of Avian Influenza.

The service will provide independent, expert research and analysis on the on-going crisis, and the possible global financial and business implications in the first few months of an influenza pandemic.

The service will provide:

  • Bio-era’s independent research and analysis on the economic impacts of Avian Influenza
  • Scenarios for the outbreak of pandemic influenza and the key implications for business and industry, financial markets, governments, and investors
  • Regular teleconferences with bio-era experts and participants to present and discuss the latest developments.

Under the leadership and direction of bio-era Managing Director, James Newcomb, the service will deliver a steady stream of bio-era research and analysis, as well as highly plausible scenarios for the evolution of a pandemic outbreak, how government and public health agencies and institutions are likely to respond, and the impacts on regional economies and selected sectors of the global economy, such as cross-border trade and travel, food, livestock, 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 of $30-$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 service will extend and deepen 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 service 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 service, or for more information, please visit http://www.bio-era.net or contact Stephen C. Aldrich, President, at 617 876-2400, James Newcomb, Managing Director, at 303 247-1171, or JoElyn McDonald, Director of Sales at 303 503-7743.

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Stephen Aldrich
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