Swiss Re says modern medicine reduces risk of 1918 event

Swiss Re has suggested that reinsurers face little risk from swine flu because of medicines available today.

“We have estimated that, in most developed countries, a 1-in-200-year severity pandemic would give rise to excess mortality of between 1 and 1.5 deaths per 1,000 lives within an insurance portfolio.

“The model also shows that the influenza pandemic of 1918 would have a much lower impact on mortality today than it did in 1918. A key factor that made 1918 so severe compared with today was that no antibiotics, vaccines or antivirals were available.”

The reinsurer also said: “Swiss Re is well prepared to deal with the insurance, financial and business continuity risks that could arise from a pandemic, and to continue writing new business afterwards. Our capital base is strong; our portfolio is diversified; we have business continuity plans in place.”