Potential Influenza Pandemic: An Update on Possible Macroeconomic Effects and Policy Issues   [open pdf - 132KB]

"In December 2005, at the request of the Senate Majority Leader, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) prepared an assessment of the possible macroeconomic effects of an avian flu pandemic. In its assessment, CBO also described the nation's preparedness for a pandemic and options for increasing preparedness. At the request of the Majority Leader and the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, CBO has undertaken this update to its earlier work, focusing on changes in the budgetary and economic aspects of the nation's preparedness. Although a pandemic could be caused by any of several influenza strains, scientists are particularly worried about H5N1, a strain that has caused repeated epidemics with high mortality among poultry in Asia; has spread from Southeast Asia to flocks in Central Asia, Europe, and Africa; and has made the jump from birds to humans, causing the deaths of over 120 people. Infectious diseases are unpredictable, so it is impossible to say for sure whether a new pandemic will arise; whether it will involve the H5N1 virus; and, if it does, when it will happen and whether it will be mild or severe. The H5N1 virus could mutate in a way that causes a severe pandemic next year or a mild epidemic in a decade or two. Or it could evolve in a way that renders it harmless. Or a pandemic could arise from an entirely different virus subtype."

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