“According to the Lowy Institute
report an estimated 142 million people worldwide could die in a ‘worst case’
scenario and the impact on the global economy would be losses of $4.4 trillion.”
Even a “mild epidemic could kill 1.4 million people and cost $330 billion”. This
is the sobering conclusion of a study by two academics for the Lowy Institute.

“A Treasury paper released last Wednesday paints a similarly bleak picture for Australia. The
Treasury paper ‘concluded that even given relatively moderate assumptions, the
consequences would be severe, with 40,000 deaths and at least $50 billion
slashed from the economy’.” While the Government has $550 million set aside for
a bird flu outbreak, businesses are probably asking themselves if they are

Over the weekend,
Australian researchers announced that they believe they are on the way to producing a vaccine likely
to provide protection. Many groups are working on this around the world, but
the problem is time. We must hope there is no pandemic this year, as it is too
soon to produce a lot of vaccine or even sufficient anti-viral drugs such as
Relenza or Tamiflu. And one of Henry’s medical research friends reports that
Tamiflu is proving ineffective in warding off Bird Flu, in one study, in 90% of

And if the process needs to be
speeded up so that the normal checks are not applied, vaccine maker CSL requires
an indemnity

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey