The Loss from Pandemic Influenza Risk

Authors: Victoria Fan, Lawrence Summers, Dean Jamison


The 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in West Africa reminded the world that enormous economic and human losses result from the uncontrolled spread of deadly infection. Less noticed was that a pandemic with characteristics similar to the influenza in 1918 would have killed about 10 times as many people in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone  as did Ebola. The global death total from such a pandemic could be 2,500 times higher than the World Health Organization’s (WHO) estimate of 11,300 deaths due to Ebola through March 16, 2016  (WHO 2016a).