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Governments urged to stockpile antibiotics for a future flu pandemic

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Stockpiling antibiotics to use in the event of a pandemic influenza outbreak could save billions of pounds worldwide, according to a new analysis.

In the first study to model the financial value of holding antibiotics back to use in a global flu outbreak, researchers have found that an effective drug would save the world between $3 and $4 billion (£2.3 to £3.1 billion). The official report into the 2009 swine flu epidemic found that it cost the UK alone £1.24 billion.

Between 50 and 100 million people died during the 1919 Spanish flu pandemic when the virus swept across the globe but the vast majority of these deaths were caused by secondary bacterial infections rather than the flu virus itself.

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