Edited by Harry W. Richardson, Jiyoung Park, James E. Moore II and Qisheng Pan
Chapter 7: International border closures
Recurrent reminders that an international avian influenza epidemic is a real possibility have prompted a variety of public policy discussions. A recent World Bank study estimated that the global economy would lose $2 trillion from an outbreak, or 3 percent of world gross domestic product (GDP). Another report in The Lancet (by the Harvard Initiative for Global Health Group; Murray et al., 2006), largely based on an analogy drawn from the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918–20, presented various estimates of possible US fatalities. These included a low threshold of 114,483, a median threshold of 297,883, a mean threshold of 383,881 and a high threshold of 744,226. Applying the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) valuation of a statistical life, $5.8 million (now increased to $9.1 million by EPA, $7.9 million by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)), these fatalities amount to large imputed dollar amounts: $664 billion, $1.728 trillion, $2.227 trillion and $4.317 trillion, respectively. These estimates, astronomical though they are, ignore the treatment costs of those who get sick but do not die, quarantine costs and other disaster management costs.
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