Last week Jim Newcomb, my colleague from Bio Economic Research Associates (www.bio-era.net), testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on potential economic damage from a flu pandemic. Here is the PDF (bio-era, US Senate), replete with excellent figures. Much of the testimony is based on extensive analysis by bio-era of the SARS episode. The upshot for the flu is that fear induced by infectious disease can cause significant damage by itself. The SARS virus killed just short of 800 people and cost as much as $50 billion. The H5N1 avian flu had by March 2005 already caused an estimated $10 billion in damage, with those costs now much higher and sure to rise even if the bug doesn't evolve to become more infectious in humans.