Dec 14, 2018
Preparing for the Next PandemicIntroduction This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 1918 influenza pandemic, also known as the “Spanish Flu”, which killed approximately 50 million people worldwide. This is the fourth and final installment of 1918 Today, Metabiota’s analysis of the most significant pandemic in modern history and what it can teach the world about how to prepare for devastating pandemics in the future. In our concluding installment, we will explore how influenza pandemic preparedness has evolved and discuss the many ways researchers and public health officials are striving to mitigate the impact of the next "Big One". To read more of this post, please visit this link.
Nov 08, 2018
Business Insurance 2018 Innovation Awards: PathogenRX WinsMarsh LLC, Metabiota Inc., Munich Re PATHOGENRX Fear of the unknown can be disastrous for a company’s bottom line. That’s particularly true for businesses such as hospitality and tourism that depend on a steady flow of customers. An outbreak of a disease such as Zika can dry up that flow, cutting into a company’s profits. But fear is a hard thing to measure. That uncertainty led Marsh LLC to partner with San Francisco-based epidemic risk modeling company Metabiota Inc. and Munich Reinsurance Co. to offer a remedy to pandemic-related revenue losses by creating PathogenRX, a 2018 Business Insurance Innovation Awards winner. The product uses Metabiota’s Pathogen Sentiment Index to estimate public fear and the way behavior could change in the face of major disease outbreaks. Businesses can model the loss arising from an outbreak and protect their balance sheets against the potential loss through an insurance policy underwritten by Munich Re. The policy can be customized to meet the coverage needs of clients. Hospitality and gaming, travel and tourism, aviation, and sports and events are among the target industries for the policy. “In the non-property damage (business interruption) world, pandemics have traditionally fallen out of the scope of what can be identified and measured for a policy,” said Jen Bruursema, a vice president of marketing and sales at Metabiota who helped develop the product. “That’s because pandemics are very difficult to predict in terms of where they’re going to emerge and how long they’re going to last.” “The Sentiment Index is very, very unique; that score can be impacted,” said Christian Ryan, Marsh managing director and U.S. hospitality, sports and entertainment practice leader in Dallas. “Clients can see the index, and if something happens anywhere around the world, the index is adjusted. It’s very, very simple.” “The various pathogens have different profiles for how the public looks at infectious disease,” said Ms. Bruursema. “Each pathogen gets its own unique scores based on how frightening those symptoms might be. If this threshold or score is reached, the likelihood is consumers aren’t likely to go to various events or proceed with travel.” “Risk managers have been planning on operational things that they need to do to prepare for an epidemic or pandemic,” such as crisis communication, said Ms. Bruursema. “But none of these risk managers have felt safe on the balance-sheet side of their operations. This new solution of PathogenRX for the first time gives them the same way to estimate what this event would cost their organizations.” For a link to the original article, click here.
Nov 05, 2018
Today's Hotelier publishes "Preparing hoteliers to protect their businesses against global health crises"PHYSICAL DAMAGE CAUSED BY NATURAL catastrophes such as hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes can capture headlines and be reported as a common metric for the impact to businesses. For hoteliers, this logic is especially true, because without property, there is no business. However, physical damage is only one way a disaster can negatively impact a hotel’s balance sheet. There are many other types of disasters, including infectious disease events, which can cause a similar shock to a hotel’s revenue without ever causing damage to the property. As we have seen historically, these impacts can be just as damaging and can have long-term effects. RECENT REVENUE LOSS FROM ZIKA Most recently, Zika virus took the Americas by a storm. Though Zika was first discovered in 1947, it caused only relatively minor outbreaks in Africa and Asia before being identified in Brazil in May 2015. By the time the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Latin America Zika outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern because of the association with birth defects and neurological disorders, Zika had spread to more than 20 countries and territories in the Americas. Impacts from the outbreak extended beyond the obvious health implications with significant economic losses realized as well. A United Nations report found Zika’s short-term economic loss in Latin America could reach $18 billion, with the majority of the impact driven by declines in tourism as the public reacted fearfully to the risks presented by the virus. A significant decrease in hotel occupancy rates followed the WHO emergency announcement in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. In the first two years of the outbreak, hotels in the Baja California city suffered losses in occupancy for more than nine months (See Figure 1). In Cabo San Lucas, the nine-month impact of Zika on occupancy rates is comparable to those observed in the three months following Hurricane Odile – the most intense hurricane to hit Baja California in recent history. To read more, click here.
Oct 25, 2018
Metabiota Nominated for an Insurance Innovation Award by Digital InsurerVisit this link for more details and to have your vote counted on November 2.
Oct 10, 2018
Preparing Your Business for the Next Health CrisisOur partner, Marsh Global, has created and released a thoughtful new report for companies considering the impact from significant infectious disease events. Metabiota provided insights into the content and our Pathogen Sentiment Index is a key tool that is informing PathogenRX. The report is entitled, "Pandemic Readiness: Risk Finance and Mitigation Strategies" and it examines a host of topics, including the cost of infectious disease on businesses, response planning and insuring against the risk of epidemics and pandemics. Below is an excerpt from the report ... "A century ago, the Spanish flu spread across the world, killing as many as 100 million people and causing devastating economic losses. Since then, tens of millions of lives have been claimed by pandemics and epidemics that also wreaked havoc on businesses and damaged national economies. Despite advances in medicine and improved infection control practices, the swine flu and Zika pandemics and outbreaks of the Ebola virus and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus in the last decade are a stark reminder of the dangers posed by rapidly spreading disease. Although public health officials must lead much of the preventive work needed to limit the effects of infectious diseases, organizations can manage their own risk by planning their response to protect their people and fiscal integrity. To effectively respond to these threats, businesses should take a two-pronged approach, starting with establishing preparedness strategies that cover emergency response, business continuity, crisis management, and crisis communications. Aside from the ability to monitor the progress of emerging pandemics and epidemics and understanding their potential impact, plans should also be in place to continue operations in case of travel restrictions and if organizations are directly affected. Secondly, businesses should understand how existing insurance coverages may respond to a pandemic, and make any necessary changes to their policies, keeping in mind the potentially global nature of various diseases." To access the full report, click here.
Aug 29, 2018
Could pandemic risk impact your business?Pandemics are the stuff of nightmares. But alongside the risk to life, there are significant risks to businesses too. In the worst-case scenario, the worldwide spread of a serious infectious disease could result in annual economic losses of more than $500 billion as well as pandemic-related deaths of 700,000, according to a study cited by the World Health Organization. But even a relatively small outbreak could have huge consequences for businesses in certain sectors, namely hospitality, gambling and transportation. As a result, organizations are increasingly seeking solutions for financial protection and risk transfer in the case that a pandemic impacts trading. “We are seeing a lot of interest in that from certain classes of business,” Duncan Ellis, Marsh’s US property practice leader told Corporate Risk and Insurance. “There have been some fairly high-profile articles written of late around the hidden dangers of pandemics, which have happened mostly in Asia around SARS or MERS and other types of diseases. But these incidences of pandemics can also play havoc with a client’s balance sheet, especially around bookings,” Ellis said. Should there be an outbreak of a disease, businesses in the surrounding area will likely be directly impacted. Most at risk are those in sectors where customers could simply choose to avoid the area or activity all together. “For the gaming or hospitality sector, one of your exposures is a potential pandemic which could all of a sudden cause the number of people coming to visit you to be reduced by an enormous level,” Ellis said. The prevalence of international travel today only adds fuel to the fire – and means transportation businesses face risks too. “The way the world works these days… a gambler could be in Macau today and technically speaking could be in Las Vegas tomorrow, for example,” Ellis said. “If they suddenly came down with something and flew on a certain airline, you could imagine how the bookings would go.” Parametric policies are becoming an increasingly attractive solution for those looking to insure the risks to their business around pandemics. Parametric cover works by using a pre-determined parameter - i.e. a metric or an index – which could see the presence of a pathogen trigger the policy for those insuring pandemic risk. This year, Marsh launched PathogenRX, a product that provides financial protection to the global operations of US-based businesses affected by an infectious disease outbreak. The policy utilizes a parametric trigger provided by epidemic risk modeling specialists Metabiota and capacity from reinsurance giant Munich Re. Martin South, president of Marsh’s US and Canada Division, described pandemics and epidemics as “not your average risk.” He added: “They may occur over several months, are often not confined to a specific region, and their unpredictability means they can scale, grow, and become quite costly to a range of businesses - from hotels and restaurants to schools and airlines.” For a link to the original article, please click here.
Aug 27, 2018
Business Insurance Magazine Names 2018 Innovation Award Winners - Metabiota, Marsh and Munich ReBusiness Insurance on Monday announced the winners of its 2018 Innovation Awards. The awards recognize innovative products and services designed for professional risk managers. The winners were selected by an independent panel of risk managers. The award-winning organizations are: American International Group Inc. Care Bridge International Inc. FM Global Gallagher Bassett Services Inc. Hiscox Special Risks, a unit of Hiscox Ltd. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. Marsh L.L.C., which had two winning entries Marsh L.L.C./Metabiota Inc./Munich Reinsurance Co., which submitted a joint project (PathogenRX). The Institutes The award-winning entries will be profiled in the November issue of Business Insurance, and the winners will be recognized at the U.S. Insurance Awards to be held in New York in March 2019. For a link to the original post, click here.
Aug 26, 2018
Big Data and Disaster Risk Financing for Epidemics: From the 2018 Understanding Risk ForumI attended the 2018 Understanding Risk Forum in Mexico City, with over 1,000 attendees from over 600 organizations representing over 120 countries—an interesting mix of people from funding agencies such as the World Bank, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and Germany’s BMZ; country representatives from ministries of finance and catastrophe funds; (re)-insurers; technical and modeling companies; and humanitarian agencies like the Red Cross-Red Crescent. The conference showcased exciting developments in disaster risk financing (DRF), including the increasing use of big data, artificial intelligence, 3-D printing, drones, and phones before, during, and after disasters. A few noteworthy takeaways—satellite imaging is increasingly being used to characterize building stocks in countries, and drones are being sent into hazardous flood zones to measure flood depths and assist real-time response and mitigation efforts. While these operations are saving lives and economies, DRF for preparedness and response to epidemics and pandemics lags behind that of other disasters. The economic impacts of epidemics and pandemics can be devastating. In fact, I spoke with a couple of locals from Mexico City, who shared the economic losses they witnessed first-hand during the 2009 Swine Flu pandemic, when many businesses were shut down in an effort to reduce spread of the disease. I even had a casual conversation with my cab driver, and he echoed similar themes. In fact, the Mexican tourism industry alone lost nearly USD$3 billion during this event, according to some estimates. Currently, there is still a very reactive approach to dealing with epidemics. Instead, the global community must become more proactive. Before an epidemic, appropriate data sources (big or small) should be identified. Countries should aim to better understand their preparedness. Simulation models can be built and run to support risk analytics, and risk transfer mechanisms can be put into place. Cue the panel discussion I participated in, “Big Data and Disaster Risk Financing,” where I focused on data science applications to epidemic and pandemic risk. Big data is helping to overcome challenges in epidemic preparedness and response. A few examples: Natural Language Processing: Narrative reports from official sources are parsed and structured more quickly. News media and social media are analyzed to obtain more timely and localized data. Machine Learning: Boosted regression trees are used on remotely-sensed and locally-acquired data to predict disease “hot spots”. Genetic, medical, or weather data may reveal precursors and early indicators of epidemics. High Performance Computing: Large-scale models can run millions of simulations of epidemic spread to get a better idea of the range of possible outcomes from epidemics. Therefore, it is not a shortage of big data tools and analytics, but rather tying these into development of DRF mechanisms for epidemics that seems to be a roadblock. DRF would be very beneficial for epidemics and pandemics. It can incentivize preparedness and mitigation, improve rigor in data collection infrastructure, and allow for creation of contingency plans and understanding of absorptive capacity. A couple of DRF mechanisms for epidemics do exist or are currently in development. The World Bank’s Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) came into effect in 2017 and has paid out $12 million to fund response activities for an Ebola outbreak earlier in 2018 in DRC. Metabiota is excited to be an implementation partner in a new pilot program by the African Risk Capacity (a specialized agency of the African Union) to develop tools and DRF for outbreak and epidemic risk management. As the world continues to harness big data, develop new technologies and tools, and to design novel DRF mechanisms, it is crucial that researchers and policy makers turn an eye towards applying these innovations to mitigating and managing epidemic and pandemic risk. Earlier intervention can save lives and avert costs, significantly altering the course of an epidemic in real time. For more on the impact of big data on epidemic management and preparedness, check out this previous post.
Aug 08, 2018
Metabiota Gains Government Momentum with Black & Veatch Sub-Contracts for Defense Threat Reduction ProgramsToday, Metabiota, the pioneer in epidemic risk modeling, announced it has been awarded a subcontract from Black & Veatch (B&V) to support the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s (DTRA) Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP) in Iraq under the Biological Threat Reduction Integrating Contract (BTRIC). Metabiota has also partnered with B&V on DTRA’s recently awarded Cooperative Threat Reduction Integrating Contract (CTRIC) III with an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (ID/IQ) contract ceiling of $970M. As B&V’s BTRIC science partner, Metabiota will work with local and foreign stakeholders to improve public heath capacity in Iraq by helping to detect, diagnose, and report emerging and re-emerging diseases of international concern. This work builds on Metabiota’s previous CBEP engagements in the Middle East and will further drive Metabiota's understanding of disease risk and scientific capacity in the region. The BTRIC-Iraq award could generate up to $900,000 for Metabiota over the next 18 months. Metabiota’s commitment to building public health capacity in coordination with host country governments was further realized through the award of BTRIC Cameroon ($450,000), where the Metabiota team has worked for over 14 years. As part of this 18-month contract, Metabiota will provide biosafety expertise to inform renovations to Cameroon’s National Veterinary Laboratory (LANAVET) and will also provide trainings to bolster biosafety and biosecurity capabilities. For CTRIC III, Metabiota will support B&V on awarded Task Orders by leading human and veterinary science initiatives that encompass training, research, and biological surveillance in cooperation with partner nations. A One Health approach will be applied to enhance the ability to detect and deter biological threats in a safe and secure manner, ensuing compliance to international standards. Under the CTRIC III Task Order 02, Metabiota will support efforts to strengthen laboratory capacity at the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) in Thiès, Senegal. Metabiota will further help develop and institutionalize BS&S Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in the laboratory environment. Senegalese Task Order has potential to drive $600,000 in revenue for Metabiota, with a 12-month option. “Metabiota has deep ties to the global health community and has been working hand-in-hand with US Government stakeholders and partner nations for almost a decade,” said Mary Guttieri, executive vice president of Science and Microbiology at Metabiota. “As a result, our team knows what it takes to help countries assess risk and facilitate earlier detection of outbreaks. Working with Black & Veatch on these task orders will help us continue to leverage our analytics and deep scientific knowledge to improve the world’s resilience to epidemics.” To read more of this release, please visit this link.
Jul 31, 2018