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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Aug 23;108(34):14366-70. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1101694108. Epub 2011 Aug 8.

Synthesizing epidemiological and economic optima for control of immunizing infections.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton Environmental Institute, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA.


Epidemic theory predicts that the vaccination threshold required to interrupt local transmission of an immunizing infection like measles depends only on the basic reproductive number and hence transmission rates. When the search for optimal strategies is expanded to incorporate economic constraints, the optimum for disease control in a single population is determined by relative costs of infection and control, rather than transmission rates. Adding a spatial dimension, which precludes local elimination unless it can be achieved globally, can reduce or increase optimal vaccination levels depending on the balance of costs and benefits. For weakly coupled populations, local optimal strategies agree with the global cost-effective strategy; however, asymmetries in costs can lead to divergent control optima in more strongly coupled systems--in particular, strong regional differences in costs of vaccination can preclude local elimination even when elimination is locally optimal. Under certain conditions, it is locally optimal to share vaccination resources with other populations.

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