UH researcher's study says the world isn't prepared for global flu outbreak

UH researcher's study says the world isn't prepared for global flu outbreak

By: Samantha Brooks
HNN Spring Intern

MANOA (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the deadly flu virus grips 49 U.S. states, researchers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa wanted to know: Could the world handle a potential global flu outbreak?

Victoria Fan, an assistant professor at the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work was the lead author for a study that serves as a doomsday wake up call.

She found that if a global flu outbreak were to occur, the disease would cause 700,000 deaths worldwide, and result in more than $500 billion in economic losses, according to the study.

Fan used scientific algorithms to produce the study titled, "Pandemic Risk: How the large are the expected losses."

Based on Fan's work, the economic losses were higher than previously projected.

"There is an unmet need for greater investment in preparedness against major epidemics and pandemics," the study said.

The principles of the study can also be applied to other catastrophic events such as a malaria outbreaks or nuclear attacks.

"Policymakers may be able to estimate the economic losses that come with rare but potentially devastating events," Fan said. "We hope this can lead to more appropriate adjustments for national policies and investments, and international collaborations on pandemic preparedness."

Fan's outlook proves the world — not just Hawaii —  is ill-prepared for disaster.

"Few doubt that major epidemics and pandemics will strike again and few would argue that the world is adequately prepared," the study added.

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