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Bird flu could kill 142 million people

A report forecasts that one per cent of the population may die along with 2.2 per cent of humanity.

india Updated: Feb 17, 2006 18:53 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

A serious global outbreak of deadly bird flu this year could kill 142 million people in the worst possible scenario, a study by Australian experts said.

In addition to the potential human toll, even a "mild" bird flu pandemic would have a major impact on the global economy, said the study by Professor Warwick McKibbin and Dr Alexandra Sidorenko.

Professor McKibbin is one of the world's leading economic modellers and Sidorenko, a health expert at Australian National University.

"A massive global slowdown occurs in the ultra (most severe) scenario with over 142.2 million people killed, and a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) loss of $4.4 trillion," the report said.

Up to 30 per cent of Australians could catch the deadly bird flu virus if there is a serious global outbreak this year, said the study.

"Thirty per cent of the (Australian) population will catch influenza, according to most estimates," said Prof McKibbin.

The report forecasts that one per cent of the population, or 214,000 people, could die, along with 2.2 per cent of humanity -- or 142 million people.

They authors said, the potential price tag on an extreme outbreak is about 4.4 trillion Australian dollars, with Australia forecast to lose 10.6 per cent of its economic output as the global economy shrinks by 12.6 per cent.

"We have to be as realistic as we can without being outrageous, but these numbers surprised me by their size," Prof McKibbin said.

First Published: Feb 17, 2006 13:36 IST