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Understanding the Risk of an Avian Flu Pandemic: Rational Waiting or Precautionary Failure?

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The precautionary principle (PP) has been proposed as the proper guide for the decision-making criteria to be adopted in the face of the new catastrophic risks that have arisen in the last decades. This article puts forward a workable definition of the PP based on the so-called α-maximin expected utility approach, applying it to the possible outbreak of the avian flu disease among humans. Moreover, it shows how the shortage and/or lack of effective drugs against the infection of the virus A(H5N1) among humans can be considered a precautionary failure.

Keywords: Ambiguity; avian flu; multiple priors; precautionary principle

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1539-6924.2006.00761.x

Affiliations: Dipartimento di Economia Pubblica, Università di Roma La Sapienza, Via Castro Laurenziano 9, Roma, Italy.

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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