This past week I was researching some telecom reports, and I happened to run across an outlier in the corporate mix that caught my eye. It was a Gartner report, entitled "Prepare for Avian Influenza: Our Interview With the World Health Organization's Dr. David Nabarro" (sorry - subscription required).
Now I don't follow the management consulting and other firms that specialize in risk management and human resources that closely, so I thought I would check their sites out for a peek. Marsh has some information on the avian flu here. AON has something over here.
Companies and organizations do not seem prepared. A survey by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions appears to indicate that 66% of companies do not feel adequately prepared (poll of 179 companies). Instapundit points out how hospitals could barely keep up with the normal flu here. When I step back from the business aspects and whether companies can withstand prolonged labor shortages of 30%+, etc, I am a bit more concerned that communities and families may not be prepared. At least I find myself not quite fully informed to a level that hits close to home, despite all of the press.
So I have started to make some mental notes from research reports, like those from Gartner, that hit close to home. Maybe readers will have other sources of info to share.
From the Gartner report (note Dr. Nabarro is the highest medical authority, the U.N.'s top official for global pandemic response planning), here are my key notes:
- "in the last 200 years, there have been pandemics at intervals of every 30 to 40 years, on average" - so if even if one doesn't have to be concerned about it, there could be an impact on one's children or their children
- "modellers are [saying] that it may be as few as 21 days from the initial appearance of the virus to it being a full-blown pandemic" - note that the increased mobility of people shortens the cycle-time of viruses spreading ; I ask myself, how and how fast would I personally react once something hit the continent, country, or city I live in?
- Dr. Nabarro indicated he is not sure (because he doesn't know enough about how corporations work) whether corporate CEOs should assign senior executives to coordinate their response to avian flu
It seems the World Bank estimates economic damage from an avian flu pandemic could cause $800 billion in economic damage. To put that number in perspective, Hurricane Katrina damages were estimated at $125 billion. A sickening of 90 million Americans as stated here - gee, that would be out of a population of 296 million Americans according to the CIA World Factbook. My wife and I can barely control flu in the household between kids let alone if one of every three people in the entire US is sick. What would you do?
I suppose after writing all of this down, I am not more prepared for an avian flu pandemic than I was before, but I do find myself at a heightened level of awareness. That's probably at least one step forward.