Economic optimization of a global strategy to address the pandemic threat.


Emerging pandemics threaten global health and economies and are increasing in frequency. Globally coordinated strategies to combat pandemics, similar to current strategies that address climate change, are largely adaptive, in that they attempt to reduce the impact of a pathogen after it has emerged. However, like climate change, mitigation strategies have been developed that include programs to reduce the underlying drivers of pandemics, particularly animal-to-human disease transmission. Here, we use real options economic modeling of current globally coordinated adaptation strategies for pandemic prevention. We show that they would be optimally implemented within 27 y to reduce the annual rise of emerging infectious disease events by 50% at an estimated one-time cost of approximately $343.7 billion. We then analyze World Bank data on multilateral "One Health" pandemic mitigation programs. We find that, because most pandemics have animal origins, mitigation is a more cost-effective policy than business-as-usual adaptation programs, saving between $344.0.7 billion and $360.3 billion over the next 100 y if implemented today. We conclude that globally coordinated pandemic prevention policies need to be enacted urgently to be optimally effective and that strategies to mitigate pandemics by reducing the impact of their underlying drivers are likely to be more effective than business as usual.

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