Nov 14, 2017
Natural Disasters and Their Impact on Epidemic RiskHarvey. Irma. Maria. These recent catastrophic storms have wreaked havoc on our cities and in our minds. Each hurricane will require months and even years of rebuilding efforts, costing billions of dollars to communities, homeowners, businesses and governments, and likely will result in the most expensive hurricane season to-date. However, the ultimate damage and risk posed by these storms may reach beyond their immediate impacts on homes and infrastructure. Natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods, can promote environmental conditions and population characteristics favorable for infectious disease transmission leading to possible epidemics. While this threat (especially the risk of disease from exhumed bodies) has been often overemphasized by the media, leading to further panic and confusion, it remains a tremendous source of concern should opportune conditions arise. Read more at this link.
Nov 09, 2017
Insurance Post Analysis: Pandemic Bondshttps://www.postonline.co.uk/reinsurance/3336696/analysis-pandemic-bonds An excerpt from the article: New market The scale of this interest may help to encourage a new insurance market specifically for pandemic risk. This is certainly the view of Metabiota, a firm which analyses and models infectious disease data to help identify risk transfer and intervention opportunities. “We look at historical disease outbreak data for catastrophic but also more frequent events, to inform businesses and government about the risks associated with infectious diseases,” explains Nita Madhav, head of data science at Metabiota. “This analysis creates a really good picture of what could happen.” For example, this data can be used by life and health insurers to have a better understanding of the risk they already carry, but it could also help to shape products to help a government or business cover the cost of an epidemic. “A business could face supply chain disruption as a result of an epidemic,” says Cristina Stefan, product manager for insurance solutions at Metabiota. “It’s exciting that the World Bank has launched a product specifically for pandemics. It puts this risk on the map.”
Nov 07, 2017
The Ripple Effect of Climate Change on Epidemic RiskThe potential impacts of climate change have returned to headlines in recent weeks as scientists, activists, and policy makers try to understand the possible implications of a warming planet during one of the busiest hurricane seasons on record. While rising temperatures and sea levels are often considered, changing climate patterns can have vast implications for epidemic risk as well. http://www.contagionlive.com/news/the-ripple-effect-of-climate-change-on-epidemic-risk
Oct 16, 2017
Tackling Big Epidemics with Big ComputeAt Metabiota, we are fascinated by infectious diseases and the way they spread. Epidemics pose an immense risk to the entire globe; however they are notoriously challenging to forecast and monitor. Our team produces epidemic risk models for the insurance, commercial and government sectors to help address the challenge of quantifying this seemingly unquantifiable risk. Our end users are interested in knowing the probability of experiencing a certain level of human or financial loss due to infectious disease epidemics. To assess the likelihood of loss, we produce in silico (i.e., performed via computer simulation)models that project plausible disease transmission events across the entire globe. For example, our simulators depict the potential spread of pandemic flu, as well as outbreaks akin to the 2003 SARS and 2014 West Africa Ebola events. We probabilistically model where disease emerges, how quickly it spreads, how many people it infects, and the resulting rates of healthcare utilization and mortality. Our clients are often interested in the costs associated with these events, so we couple disease spread models with financial models that quantify the economic impact and insurance claims related to outbreaks. Altogether, we create an extremely large set of simulated events that allows for the estimation of potential financial and human losses caused by disease epidemics. To read more, visit this link.
Oct 12, 2017
Lehman Brothers and Fruit Bats: What the 2008 Financial Crisis Can Teach Us About Epidemic PreparednessFew catastrophes have more serious consequences than financial crises and epidemics. The 2008 financial crisis caused an estimated GDP loss of 5.5% across the developed world, while the 2014 West Africa Ebola epidemic killed over 10,000 people and reduced GDP in the three worst-hit countries by up to 21%. Financial crises and epidemics both start small, with the collapse of a single firm like Lehman Brothers or a bite from an infected fruit bat. But such events can quickly spread, sometimes reaching a global scale and costing billions of dollars. And worryingly, the risk of these crises may be growing – with more chances to spark and spread through increasingly connected economies and societies. Over the long term, another major financial crisis or epidemic is certain to occur, but our ability to predict or prevent the next crisis is limited. We do not know what will cause the next crisis, but we can reduce its impact through preparedness and response efforts, such as those implemented in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and the 2014 West Africa Ebola epidemic. Although the financial crisis and the Ebola epidemic are two very different events, there are surprising similarities, and the financial crisis offers important insights into how to respond to public health crises. During the 2008 financial crisis, early, but delayed, injection of emergency capital from programs such as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) helped to mitigate the crisis. Through TARP, the US Treasury dispersed over $400M to buy toxic assets from large financial institutions to cleanse their balance sheets, encourage the resumption of lending, and stop the devaluation of otherwise healthy assets. This helped restore confidence by reassuring markets that all parties could pay their short-term debts, and firms would not fail unexpectedly. Equally important, much of this activity was globally coordinated across a number of institutions. To mitigate future financial crises, many central banks now have permanent lending facilities open to any bank that wishes to borrow in times of stress. The financial crisis also underscored the need for large financial institutions to develop better contingency plans and stress tests to identify and mitigate hidden risks in companies’ balance sheets. During the beginning of the financial crisis, many large financial institutions did not have sufficient plans to quickly respond to shocks in the financial system. Also, before 2007, most stress tests were performed by banks themselves. Now dozens of firms have plans and perform tests jointly with financial regulators, giving them a better chance of surviving a crisis. During the 2014 West Africa Ebola epidemic, the delayed injection of emergency capital and other resources slowed down efforts to mitigate the crisis. While the US and other countries ultimately allocated over $5 billion in emergency Ebola funding, resource-poor West African nations had greater difficulty raising funds. To mitigate future epidemics, several partners, including the World Bank, developed the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF). PEF will provide funds and resources to health authorities early in an epidemic, enabling a rapid response that can help to contain the outbreak before it spreads. The Ebola epidemic put a fine point on why it’s critical to improve and stress test contingency plans for outbreak response. Standard public health protocols, such as isolating and providing clinical care to the sick and ensuring safe burials, ultimately contained the epidemic. However, the necessary protocols and facilities were not in place at the beginning of the epidemic. This was an even bigger problem because working relationships within the health system had not been systematically and rigorously stress tested. Due to the lack of facilities and preparation, decision-makers faced many challenges that slowed their reaction as they fought to develop plans during the heat of the crisis. In comparing the two types of crises, both share three important common lessons for preparedness and response. First, situational awareness is essential for early detection of a crisis and prompt intervention including the injection of emergency capital. Second, timely crisis response requires contingency plans to be developed well in advance of the next crisis. Protocols developed in the midst of a crisis are, by definition, improvisational and untested, and can delay response. Third, stress tests and response planning require coordination between governmental agencies and many different partners whether through major financial institutions or hospitals. Despite these common threads, public health authorities suffer from a lack of data and tools that are available to their financial counterparts. For example, unlike sovereign credit ratings for financial fitness, there are no current, widely-adopted metrics to measure pandemic preparedness – although the World Bank and the Joint External Evaluation are making some progress. Public health is also at a disadvantage because data are fragmentary and incomplete; even the location of hospitals is unknown to public health officials in many countries. The lack of data results in decreased situational awareness and creates problems in constructing objective triggers (such as those found in financial instruments) that could de-politicize epidemic response plans. Finally, unlike financial regulators, public health officials cannot unobtrusively (or computationally) stress-test clinical protocols in practice. In contrast to some previous public health emergencies, the 2014 West Africa epidemic was relatively mild. An event similar to the 1918 ‘Spanish’ influenza pandemic, were it to occur today, could cause a global 12.6% GDP loss and kill over 100 million people. We should not wait for a worse event to occur to start thinking about how to prepare our response. Preparedness for an event that can become global is only as strong as the weakest link in the system. Learning from financial crises can improve our preparedness and mitigate the costs for the next epidemic.
Sep 11, 2017
Epidemics Must Be Better UnderstoodIntelligent Insurer interview with Metabiota underscores the need for insurers and reinsurers to better understand epidemic risk. http://www.intelligentinsurer.com/news/epidemics-must-be-better-understood-13041
Sep 07, 2017
Venture Capital Trends in InsurtechMetabiota’s CEO Bill Rossi talks about trends in the Insurtech industry and the role epidemic analytics can play for insurance companies, intermediaries and corporates in the future. Original article: https://www.pehub.com/vc-journal/venture-capital-trends-in-insurtech/
Sep 05, 2017
Lessons Learned from Hurricane AndrewInsurance Journal recently published a timely blog post from Metabiota’s Head of Product, Simon Tuck, about vital lessons learned from past hurricanes. Original article: http://www.insurancejournal.com/magazines/features/2017/09/04/462873.htm
Aug 31, 2017
The Hajj: A Threat to Infectious Disease Prevention?Outbreak News Today published Metabiota’s new blog post by Staff Epidemiologist, Jaclyn Guerraro, on the Hajj and infectious disease prevention. Original article: http://outbreaknewstoday.com/hajj-threat-infectious-disease-prevention-32628/
Aug 22, 2017