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


*Address correspondence to Marcello Basili, Dipartimento di Economia Politica, Facoltà di Economia R. Goodwin, Università di Siena, Piazza San Francesco 7, 53100 Siena, Italy; basili@unisi.it.


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.