Flu pandemic could cause a $700 billion hit to U.S. economy, killing 2 millionFlu pandemic could cause a $700 billion hit to U.S. economy, killing 2 million: Possible cost of pandemic higher than anticipated

Published 10 December 2005

A pandemic caused by a mutated form of the avian-flu virus could cause a $675 billion hit to the U.S. economy, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported. A mild pandemic would cut U.S. GDP by 1.5 percent, the report said. A severe pandemic could infect ninety million people in the United States — killing two million — and push the economy into a recession. Under this more severe scenario, 30 percent of the work force would become ill and miss at least three weeks of work. The report cautions: “There is a substantial amount of uncertainty associated with these scenarios because there is scant empirical evidence available to inform many of the assumptions that are needed for the calculations underlying the economic effects.”

Statistics used in the report assume that the avian flu evolves to a form which is easily transmitted from human to human. So far, most of the human cases have been transmitted from bird to human, with a roughly 50 percent death rate.

-read more in John Godfrey’s Wall Street Journal report