The View on Flu

Extreme Risks


It is 25 times more deadly than the killer "Spanish flu" virus of 1918; it could ultimately claim the lives of hundreds of millions of people; and there is no cure. Yet the insurance market scarcely batted an eyelid last month when avian influenza, or bird flu, finally surfaced in Britain.

So far, the virus, known as H5N1, has yet to pass from human to human. But the bug, which has proved fatal in 61 of the 118 cases in which it has jumped from bird to man, belongs to a family of influenzas t