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Profile of a Macro-Catastrophe Threat Type ‘Disease Outbreak: Human Outbreak’

This paper is part of the Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies’ Working Paper Series on threats to the global economy. The publication focuses in the Health and Humanity threat class: a human pandemic disease outbreak.


Pandemics continue to pose a major threat of societal disruption as natural evolutionary processes produce new types of pathogens and new variants of old ones that can cause infectious disease outbreaks for which mankind has no medical response. An illustrative scenario is developed as an illustration of the severity of pandemic that could occur with approximately a 1 per cent probability of occurrence each year (the ‘100 year return period’ event). A number of different types of scenarios are considered and a ‘Highly Infectious Disease – Moderate Virulence’ characteristic event is proposed. This scenario infects around 43 per cent of the world’s population. The scenario is then specified for use as a stress test for multi-line insurance exposure management and other applications of risk management.