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CDC issues new analysis of impacts of future infectious disease outbreaks on the US export economy

In addition to loss of life, the next global infectious disease outbreak could harm the US export economy even if the disease does not reach the United States itself. Two Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) articles published in Health Security analyze the risks and show potential losses to the American export economy from an overseas outbreak.

The two articles underscore the importance of the President’s request for $59 million in support of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) in Fiscal Year 2019.

“The President’s Budget request of $59 million for Fiscal Year 2019 for GHSA demonstrates the Administration’s commitment to global health security and provides an important bridge to the extension of the GHSA announced in October 2017 in Uganda,” said Anne Schuchat, M.D., acting Director of CDC. “This new funding continues the US commitment to this multi-national effort and supplements US Government multisector support for this initiative.”

The first of the two articles, ‘Relevance of Global Health Security to the U.S. Export Economy’, examines the potential disruption to the US export economy if an infectious disease outbreak were to take hold in CDC’s 49 global health security priority countries.

Using 2015 US Department of Commerce data, the article assesses the value of US exports to the 49 countries and the number of jobs supported by those exports, finding that:

  • In 2015 the United States exported over $300 billion in material goods and services to the 49 global health security priority countries.
  • These exports supported over 1.6 million American jobs across all 50 states, in sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, and natural resource extraction.

CDC’s global health security efforts stop outbreaks where they start to protect health worldwide, in turn protecting demand for US exports and the jobs they support in America.

What could happen to the U.S. export economy if an epidemic hits Asia? The second article, ‘Impact of Hypothetical Infectious Disease Outbreak on US Exports and Export-Based Jobs’, examines what could happen to the US economy if an epidemic were to strike a key region, such as Southeast Asia. The article demonstrates how an epidemic spanning nine countries in Asia could cost the U.S. over $40 billion in export revenues and put more than 1 million U.S. jobs at risk.

Southeast Asia is at greater risk for an emerging infectious disease event due to zoonotic, drug-resistant, and vector-borne diseases. Exports to Asia support the largest number of US export-related jobs, which is why a large-scale infectious disease outbreak in this region could significantly disrupt the US export economy.

The article illustrates the potential impact on the U.S. economy of an outbreak in just one affected country, and then expands the hypothetical scenario to look at what might happen if the outbreak were to spread across the region. Economic models used in the scenario take into account a large number of variables, including the interconnections between sectors of an economy and the trade between countries.

The references for the two articles are:

  • Cassell C, Bambery Z, Kakoli R, et al. Relevance of global health security to the US export economy. Health Security. 2017;15(6):563-568.
  • Bambery Z, Cassell C, Bunnell R, et al. Impact of a hypothetical infectious disease outbeak on US exports and export-based jobs. Health Security. 2018;16(1).


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