Bio-era Announces Extension of Avian Influenza Service

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Service to be offered through the end of 2005. Will expand to include analysis of corporate pandemic planning and preparedness, emerging vaccine production technologies, in addition to the business and economic impacts of an avian influenza pandemic

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 renewal for a second four month period of its multi-client research and advisory service to track the potential business and economic implications of Avian Influenza.

The service will continue to 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 provides:

  • 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.

Current participants 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:

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 continued spread of avian influenza across Asia through domestic and wild bird populations, an expanding list of susceptible animal hosts (such as Indonesian swine), continued rapid viral evolution, and the growing number of human infections.

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, and has expanded its adaptability to a range of mammalian hosts, including pigs, humans, and 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).

The renewed 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 brakes out, what specific actions (travel advisories, quarantines, travel restrictions, etc.) should major corporations consider implementing? What actions and plans should these organizations take to prepare themselves?
  • How will a pandemic outbreak 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

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