The new bird flu study

Who is at greatest risk from a pandemic?  We now have more systematic data:

The authors used international mortality data from 27 countries and
regions where there was a minimum of 80% death registration in the
years 1915 to 1923, trying to correlate the wide variation in mortality
with community attributes.  By restricting their data set to these
"registration areas," they are able to make more comparable comparisons
between areas that differed in mortality.  They selected two features of
the communities that might indicate important differences, per capita
income and latitude….

There was an extremely wide variation in excess mortality from country
to country and region to region.  Even within the same registration
areas, for example, the Census of India, there is a 2.1% excess
mortality attributed to the pandemic in Burma compared to a 7.8% in the
Indian province of Berar.

the single variable of per capita income in a country explains half of the variation in excess mortality [emphasis added].

It is possible that 95 percent of the losses of human life would come in the developing world.  Here is much more.

It is, by the way, a mistake to think that the risk of this happening has gone down.  The recent bird flu deaths in Egypt
point to the ongoing danger.  Nor should you think we have
any real idea what is going on with bird flu in Nigeria. 


Then why there was no such wide variation in excess mortality from country to country and region to region in the case of a pandemic like The Black Plague of 1348-50?

I surveyed research on bird flu last year, and concluded that the world was at a small but significant risk of a pandemic that would cause millions of human deaths. But who cares about people--let's focus on economic impacts. Surprisingly, the Spanish Flu of 1918 cannot be seen in the GDP data. I have a PowerPoint presentation on the subject if anyone is interested.

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