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PLoS One. 2013 Apr 9;8(4):e61504. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0061504. Print 2013.

The cost effectiveness of pandemic influenza interventions: a pandemic severity based analysis.

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Simulation and Modelling Research Unit, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia.



The impact of a newly emerged influenza pandemic will depend on its transmissibility and severity. Understanding how these pandemic features impact on the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of alternative intervention strategies is important for pandemic planning.


A cost effectiveness analysis of a comprehensive range of social distancing and antiviral drug strategies intended to mitigate a future pandemic was conducted using a simulation model of a community of ∼30,000 in Australia. Six pandemic severity categories were defined based on case fatality ratio (CFR), using data from the 2009/2010 pandemic to relate hospitalisation rates to CFR.


Intervention strategies combining school closure with antiviral treatment and prophylaxis are the most cost effective strategies in terms of cost per life year saved (LYS) for all severity categories. The cost component in the cost per LYS ratio varies depending on pandemic severity: for a severe pandemic (CFR of 2.5%) the cost is ∼$9 k per LYS; for a low severity pandemic (CFR of 0.1%) this strategy costs ∼$58 k per LYS; for a pandemic with very low severity similar to the 2009 pandemic (CFR of 0.03%) the cost is ∼$155 per LYS. With high severity pandemics (CFR >0.75%) the most effective attack rate reduction strategies are also the most cost effective. During low severity pandemics costs are dominated by productivity losses due to illness and social distancing interventions, while for high severity pandemics costs are dominated by hospitalisation costs and productivity losses due to death.


The most cost effective strategies for mitigating an influenza pandemic involve combining sustained social distancing with the use of antiviral agents. For low severity pandemics the most cost effective strategies involve antiviral treatment, prophylaxis and short durations of school closure; while these are cost effective they are less effective than other strategies in reducing the infection rate.

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