In 2014, Lord O’Neill published a review commissioned by the UK government that described how by 2050, 10 million people around the world will die every year due to superbug infections. The term "superbug" refers to bacteria, which are resistant to antibiotics. The medical breakthroughs of the last century could be lost through the spread of epidemics, or even pandemics, meaning that previously curable infections may become untreatable, Large scale deaths, or lifetime impairment, could result. The pipeline for new antibiotics is almost dry. This development can change the expectations on mortality trends for the insurance industry. Consequently, the industry is monitoring and modeling potential mortality shocks. So far the focus has been on influenza but the model is useful for other epidemics: including superbug triggered pandemics. Work in the field has already yielded new insurance solutions. In collaboration with the World Bank and WHO, the launch of the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility was possible. It helps to mobilize funds quickly during a disease outbreak such as Ebola in West Africa, instead of having first a donor conference to secure funding.
Modelling and insuring risks is not enough. We must battle antimicrobial resistance more proactively.
We invited you to join us for an Expert Workshop at the Swiss Re Institute, to discuss with leading industry specialists how the global insurance system can contribute to countering the impact of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). A key discussion topic for Swiss Re managers attending the workshop was how to develop risk management measures to avoid the occurrence of outbreaks. Further steps that were considered are how to use insurance to reduce the cost and impact of epidemics. The Expert Workshop was followed by a public risk talk to address the same issue.