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ADB Report Warns of Bird-Flu Catastrophe

An Avian flu pandemic could kill 3 million people in Asia, economically setting the continent back by almost $300 billion, causing a recession in the world, the Asian Development Bank has warned. //

The bank examined in a report the likely effects on the region if bird flu produces a human pandemic that hacks consumer demand, with millions of workers being taken ill. 'Growth in Asia would virtually stop,' it said. The economic impact would likely force the world into a recession.

China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand would likely be hit hardest by the pandemic, the bank predicted.

In its grimmest scenario, where the impact of a pandemic lasts a year, Asia could lose $282.7 billion — or 6.5 percent of gross domestic product — in consumption, trade and investment, the bank said in its report. Workers' incapacity and death could cost another $14.2 billion.

The scenario assumes about 20 percent of Asia's population would fall ill, and 0.5 percent of them would die.

If the psychological impact of an outbreak lasted 6 months, the cost to Asia in lost consumption, trade and investment would be about $99 billion, the report said in a less pessimistic scenario.

In a separate report, the bank said bird flu was already harming several East Asian economies. Costs so far have been limited — around 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent of gross domestic product in Vietnam — but could rise significantly, the bank said.

Milan Brahmbhatt, author of the report, said a human pandemic caused by bird flu could cost the world economy as much as $800 billion.

The reports came as governments stepped up cooperation to prepare a global response to the risk that the bird flu virus that has swept through Asia and entered Europe could mutate into a form transmissible between people and produce a pandemic that could kill millions.

Vietnamese scientists said they were ready
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