Ebola Could Cost $32B, Says World Bank

The World Bank is warning the Ebola Virus epidemic could cost tens of billions of dollars if nations don't step up to stop the outbreak.

The World Bank is warning the Ebola Virus epidemic could cost tens of billions of dollars if nations don’t step up to stop the outbreak.

Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank’s president, said his agency doesn’t have the resources or functionality to combat Ebola, though he pledged to give out $105 million in emergency funds. However, he said other organizations and nations must do more to fight Ebola and combat climate change.

“…Inaction is literally killing people — one because of the rapid spread of a deadly virus, the other from the poisoning of the atmosphere and the oceans,” he said, in a press release.

The comments came as the agency released a report outlining the potential economic impacts of an ongoing Ebola crisis. The report estimates the short-term economic impacts at about $100 million in each of the 3 African countries hit by the disease: Liberia ($113 million), Sierra Leone ($93 million), and Guinea ($120 million).

However, those 3 countries could lose more than $800 million in economic output next year if the disease is not contained.

Should the virus spread to other countries in West Africa, the World Bank says the impact could skyrocket to $7.4 billion in 2014 and $25.2 billion next year.

“The take-away messages from this analysis are that the economic impacts are already very serious in the core 3 countries — particularly Liberia and Sierra Leone – and could become catastrophic under a slow-containment, High Ebola scenario,” the study’s authors wrote.

However, the “High Ebola” scenario remains avoidable.

“In broader regional terms, the economic impacts could be limited if immediate national and international responses succeed in containing the epidemic and mitigating aversion behavior,” the study said.

The authors note that all of these figures are best guesses, given the uncertainty surrounding the disease and its spread. They note, however, that their figures do not include longer-term impacts of increased mortality, educational delays due to school closings, and other indirect effects.