From the NYT:
A pandemic of human influenza could kill up to 100 million people around the world, a World Health Organization official said today, significantly raising the agency's earlier estimates of the number of deaths in such a catastrophe.
The death toll associated with the rapid spread of a new form of human influenza would be high, Dr. Omi said. While W.H.O. has previously said that the death toll would be 2 million to 7 million people, Dr. Omi said the toll "may be more - 20 million or 50 million, or in the worst case, 100" million.
And Dr. Omi said that in his opinion a global pandemic of influenza was "very, very likely" now.
In sounding the alarm about avian influenza, "W.H.O. is trying to raise concern because we're concerned, but W.H.O. is not trying to scare the planet," a spokesman for the agency, Dick Thompson, said in a telephone interview.
Gosh, what would they do if they were trying to scare the planet?
A few analysts have suggested that the death toll could be considerably higher. Henry L. Niman, a medical researcher in Pittsburgh, who tends toward gloomy predictions and is a strong critic of W.H.O. for being too conservative, said that with more than 70 percent of the human victims of the disease dying so far, the death toll could in theory exceed a billion people if the disease were to spread rapidly among people with little if any reduction in current mortality rates.
Glad I asked.