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New Report Says a Pandemic is Overdue, But Companies and Nations are ill Prepared to Cope With the Impact
Date:9/27/2007

he event of a pandemic," said John Merkovsky, president of Marsh's risk consulting unit.

"We cannot afford to develop pandemic 'fatigue' or a sense of complacency around this particular risk," said former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Principal of The Albright Group. "With so many other pressing issues, preparing for a pandemic may not currently fall high on the list of priorities for businesses; but not doing so could result in devastating consequences for their operations."

Added James O'Brien, Principal of The Albright Group, "Not even one in four businesses in Asia has a plan to keep operating when a pandemic happens. And if a pandemic starts in Asia, it will affect every global business."

Marsh officials say discussions with global companies reveal the majority of them believe it's unlikely that a pandemic could strike their operations. But the fallacy in this thinking is found in a narrow view that does not take into account the global interdependencies of today's economy. Said differently, a pandemic outbreak in Dubai could easily have far-reaching effects in Dublin and Dallas.

"Many companies don't believe a sufficient business case has been made for taking action today," said Gary Lynch, managing director and practice leader for Marsh's Global Risk Intelligence Strategies. "But we're hopeful this report, and the additional work being done by other experts around this emerging risk scenario, will continue to raise awareness and acknowledgement that additional action is required - sooner rather than later."

Just in the last few years, an outbreak of SARS - which never reached pandemic status, but spread quickly from a single case in rural China - resulted in billions of dollars in economic damage. However, since there is no effective risk transfer mechanism for a pandemic, the only answer remains planning and mitigation activities.

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