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Could swine flu cost the UK economy £50 billion?

When a renowned figure such as the Ernst & Young ITEM club makes a prediction that the swine flu pandemic in the UK could cost the country around £50 billion it certainly is time to sit up and listen. As we have covered on a number of occasions, not only is there a potential loss of life, with the UK government expecting a maximum 65,000 fatalities from the pandemic, but the loss of business and business days to the economy could be very costly.

While there are a number of doomsday scenarios and doomsday forecasts with regards to swine flu, it is the fact that the Ernst & Young report uses the same economic model as that used by the UK Treasury which has given the figure more credibility. As a consequence of the ongoing downturn and the issue of swine flu, Ernst & Young suggest that UK gross domestic product could fall by 3% in 2009 and 1.7% in 2010. This is a significant difference when compared to the recent IMF forecast and other forecasts from UK economic analysts.

There is no doubt that many businesses and financial institutions in the UK have played down the impact, or potential impact, of swine flu although day by day the potential problems are becoming clearer.

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