From: Reuters
Published January 10, 2008 06:30 AM

Prepare for flu pandemic economic hit: U.N.

LONDON (Reuters) - Governments around the world need to do more to prepare for the dramatic economic impact of the next flu pandemic, the United Nations influenza coordinator said on Thursday.

David Nabarro said his team had recently collected information from nearly 150 countries to see how prepared they were for a pandemic and the picture was mixed.

"Most countries have now focused on pandemic as a potential cause of catastrophe and have done some planning. But the quality of the plans is patchy and too few of them pay attention to economic and social consequences," he told BBC radio.

"The economic consequences could be up to $2 trillion -- up to 5 percent of global GDP removed," he said, reiterating previous World Bank and UN estimates.

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Nabarro will deliver a lecture at the London School of Economics later on Thursday on the global state of preparedness for any pandemic, which could be triggered by bird flu.

The current H5N1 form of bird flu is mainly an animal disease, but experts fear it might mutate into a strain that could spread easily between people, causing a pandemic which could kill millions.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler, editing by Mike Peacock)

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