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Monday, April 27, 2009

 

influenza type A H1N1


the world health organization briefing page. WHO declared over the weekend that the current outbreak -- which is already shuttering commernce in mexico city, the center of the outbreak -- has pandemic potential.

here's the financial times alphaville rundown. wikipedia pages can be useful in these kinds of events.

so far it reminds of the bird flu scare of 2005. but of course these things seem to be always overhyped -- until, of course, they aren't.

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Interesting that the US government has made estimates of the potential magnitude of an influenza pandemic, should the virus prove capable of spreading widely. The estimates appear to be simply based on 20th century experience, like the 1918, 1956, and 1968 pandemics, saying that around 30% of the population could be sick to some degree and maybe 0.9 to 9.9 million hospitalized. That's according to the influenza plan prepared by Health and Human Services. It isn't clear to what degree the meliorating effects of better treatments today have been accounted for. However, the large impact is still useful, because we should be ready for a really bad outcome. Just look at what happened when the financial industry (regulators, etc.) ignored proper risk management and ignored the supposedly unlikely worst cases. The National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza warns that if the higher estimates pertain, the pandemic “will ultimately threaten all critical infrastructure by removing essential personnel from the workplace for weeks or months”. I don't know if that's investable, however.

 
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