Bird Flu Worst Case Scenario: 142 Million Dead

Posted on February 22, 2006

A CNN article has several scenarios thought up an Australian think tank that could occur should the H5N1 virus mutate and cause an outbreak in humans. The worst case scenario would be 142 million deaths worldwide and an economic cost of $4.4 trillion.

The Lowy Institute also provided four different scenarios:

  • Mild, in which the pandemic is similar to the 1968-69 Hong Kong flu;
  • Moderate, similar to the 1957 Asian flu;
  • Severe, similar to the 1918-19 Spanish flu (which infected an estimated 1 billion people and claimed as many as 50 million lives);
  • An "ultra" scenario that is worse than the Spanish flu outbreak.

    The two Spanish flu scenarios would also have to take into account the possibility of government's failing in some countries that are overwhelmed by the sick and the dead. These are very extreme scenarios that hopefully have a very very low chance of actually materializing.

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