Talk about a Bush face palm reaction anytime this guy says anything. I did like how the Obama administration cleans up the trail after him though, I imagine Biden earned himself another timeout. http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2009/04/30/biden-flu-comments-underscore-economic-threats/ Officials were quick to correct a gaffe by Vice President Joe Biden this morning warning about travel amid swine flu fears, but the comments underscore the biggest economic threat of a pandemic. On the Today Show Biden was asked what he would say to a member of his family thinking of traveling on a commercial airline to Mexico. I would tell members of my family and I have I wouldnt go anywhere in confined places now, the vice president said. Youre in confined aircraft. When one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft. I would not be at this point, if they had another way of transportation suggesting they ride the subway. From my perspective what it relates to is mitigation. If youre out in the middle of a field and someone sneezes, thats one thing. If youre in a closed aircraft or a closed container, a closed car, a closed classroom, its a different thing. (Watch the appearance here.) The White House released a clarification, indicating that Biden meant people should only avoid confined places if they are sick. Later, CDC acting director Richard Besser responded to the comments. I think flying is safe. Going on the subway is safe. People should go out and live their lives, he said. While government officials are doing their best to stem the risks of a spreading pandemic, they must walk a fine line so as not to inspire panic. If the public becomes unnecessarily cautious, it could have a severe impact on a weakened economy that is just beginning to show signs of stabilization. A recent report by the World Bank suggested that the largest economic impact from a pandemic comes not from mortality or work absenteeism, but in efforts to avoid infection. The relative magnitude of these three factors differs considerably: peoples efforts to avoid infection are 5 times more important than mortality and more than twice as important as illness, the World Bank said. That same report put the global cost of a moderately severe pandemic at around $2 trillion. Bidens comments look unnecessarily alarmist as long as the mortality and infection rates are relatively low. However, as Ezra Klein, who looks at the study The Effectiveness of Policies to Control a Human Influenza Pandemic by Arin Dutta, points out if the pandemic becomes more severe, Bidens warning will come to be seen as, if anything, insufficiently alarmist.