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J Math Biol. 2011 Mar;62(3):423-51. doi: 10.1007/s00285-010-0341-0. Epub 2010 Apr 21.

Optimal control of epidemics with limited resources.

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  • 1Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Queen's University, Jeffery Hall, Kingston, ON, Canada.


We extend the existing work on the time-optimal control of the basic SIR epidemic model with mass action contact rate. Previous results have focused on minimizing an objective function that is a linear combination of the cost associated with using control and either the outbreak size or the infectious burden. We instead, provide analytic solutions for the control that minimizes the outbreak size (or infectious burden) under the assumption that there are limited control resources. We provide optimal control policies for an isolation only model, a vaccination only model and a combined isolation-vaccination model (or mixed model). The optimal policies described here contain many interesting features especially when compared to previous analyses. For example, under certain circumstances the optimal isolation only policy is not unique. Furthermore the optimal mixed policy is not simply a combination of the optimal isolation only policy and the optimal vaccination only policy. The results presented here also highlight a number of areas that warrant further study and emphasize that time-optimal control of the basic SIR model is still not fully understood.

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