The Ebola outbreak could have a catastrophic impact on the economies of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the World Bank says.
The organisation says the economic impact of the virus could “grow eight-fold” in the “already fragile states”.
However, it says the cost can be limited if the epidemic – and the accompanying fear – is contained by a fast global response.
Ebola has killed 2,461 people in West Africa – the largest ever outbreak.
US President Barack Obama has called the latest outbreak “a threat to global security”, and announced a larger US role in fighting the virus.
The measures announced included ordering 3,000 US troops to the region and building new healthcare facilities.
The announcement came as UN officials described the outbreak as a health crisis “unparalleled in modern times.”
The World Bank’s analysis said billions of dollars could be drained from West African countries by the end of next year if the virus continued to spread.
Under the worst-case scenario, the global development lender predicted that economic growth next year could be reduced by 2.3 percentage points in Guinea and 8.9 percentage points in Sierra Leone.
It predicted Liberia’s economy would be hardest-hit, losing 11.7 percentage points off its growth next year.
The report emphasised the need to tackle the fear of the disease, as well as the virus itself. It said “aversion behaviour”, arising from concerns about contagion, was having a bigger economic impact than the “direct costs” imposed by the epidemic.
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