Economic Shock Waves From Avian Influenza Spreading Faster than the Disease

Share Article

New BIO-ERA Study Highlights Economic Risks of Possible Pandemic Originating in SE Asia Â? Identifies Winning and Losing Sectors and Companies

The Avian influenza crisis in Asia has already caused more than $10 billion dollars in damage in the economies of the most-seriously affected countries, but this is just the tip of the iceberg compared with the possible global economic consequences of a human influenza pandemic according to a study, Thinking Ahead: The Business Significance of an Avian Influenza Pandemic, released today by Bio Economic Research Associates (bio-era™).

“According to the quantitative measures we developed for assigning relative economic risk exposure to infectious disease outbreaks for countries in Asia, Hong Kong and Singapore are especially vulnerable to the initial economic shock waves that would ensue from a pandemic,” said James Newcomb, Managing Director and principal author of the bio-era report. “However, the secondary impacts on other countries, especially China, could have far-reaching impacts for economies around the world, including the US,” he added.

Other key findings in the report include:

· Avian influenza is the latest in a series of major livestock disease outbreaks that have caused more than $60 billion in economic damages worldwide over the past 15 years (see accompanying figure). The current crisis could accelerate the industrialization of the poultry industry in parts of Asia.

· Concerns about a possible influenza pandemic are already providing stimulus for increased spending and accelerated research and development efforts in some parts of the economy, ranging from custom microarray chips for rapid diagnostic testing to antiviral drugs.

· Governments around the world have recently made commitments totaling an estimated $1.4 billion to stockpile oseltamivir (Tamiflu)—an antiviral drug produced by pharmaceutical giant Roche.

· Manufacturers of flu vaccines are gearing up for what may be an unprecedented global demand for a vaccine effective against H5N1 variants, but it is not known whether the vaccines being developed now would be effective against the influenza strains that might emerge.

· New “DNA vaccines” offer an alternative to conventional production technologies and could speed the vaccine industry’s ability to respond, but these technologies are not yet approved by FDA.

The bio-era study summarizes and interprets the latest science and economic analysis relevant to the current outbreak of Avian influenza (H5N1) in Southeast Asia, including the economic burdens imposed so far by the disease, and the risks and potential business impacts should the current outbreak develop into a global influenza pandemic. “We’ve been looking at how things might unfold under six very different but highly plausible scenarios for the evolution of the outbreak,” said Stephen Aldrich, President of bio-era. “In the process, we’ve made assessments of potential outbreak risk by country, the relative economic exposure by country — and how selected industries and companies are likely to be affected.”

The report is a part of bio-era’s recently launched service “Thinking Ahead: Anticipating Early Impacts of an Avian Influenza Pandemic”, designed to support business and investment planning efforts in advance of a possible influenza pandemic. The executive summary and first few pages of the report are available for download from the bio-era website ( free of charge.

To discuss the report findings, please call James Newcomb, at 303 247-1711, or Steve Aldrich at 617 876-2400. To obtain a full copy of the report, or enroll in the bio-era service, please visit or contact Steve Aldrich at 617 876-2400.

Bio Economic Research Associates (bio-era™) is a leading provider of independent research and advisory services on the emerging bio economy. Bio - era’s mission is to help decision-makers understand and respond to the risks and opportunities arising from the economic and societal impacts of human-induced changes to biological systems. The firm’s practice areas include biosecurity, bioenergy, and biotechnology.

# # #

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

James Newcomb
Visit website