Assessing the Economic Impact of Vaccine Availability When Controlling Foot and Mouth Disease Outbreaks

Thibaud Porphyre, Karl M. Rich, and Harriet K. Auty

Frontiers in Veterinary Science.

Predictive models have been used extensively to assess the likely effectiveness of vaccination policies as part of control measures in the event of a foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak. However, the availability of vaccine stocks and the impact of vaccine availability on disease control strategies represent a key uncertainty when assessing potential control strategies. Using an epidemiological, spatially explicit, simulation model in combination with a direct cost calculator, we assessed how vaccine availability constraints may affect the economic benefit of a “vaccination-to-live” strategy during a FMD outbreak in Scotland, when implemented alongside culling of infected premises and dangerous contacts. We investigated the impact of vaccine stock size and restocking delays on epidemiological and economic outcomes. We also assessed delays in the initial decision to vaccinate, maximum daily vaccination capacity, and vaccine efficacy. For scenarios with conditions conducive to large outbreaks, all vaccination strategies perform better than the strategy where only culling is implemented. A stock of 200,000 doses, enough to vaccinate 12% of the Scottish cattle population, would be sufficient to maximize the relative benefits of vaccination, both epidemiologically and economically. However, this generates a wider variation in economic cost than if vaccination is not implemented, making outcomes harder to predict. The probability of direct costs exceeding £500 million is reduced when vaccination is used and is steadily reduced further as the size of initial vaccine stock increases. If only a suboptimal quantity of vaccine doses is initially available (100,000 doses), restocking delays of more than 2 weeks rapidly increase the cost of controlling outbreaks. Impacts of low vaccine availability or restocking delays are particularly aggravated by delays in the initial decision to vaccinate, or low vaccine efficacy. Our findings confirm that implementing an emergency vaccination-to-live strategy in addition to the conventional stamping out strategy is economically beneficial in scenarios with conditions conducive to large FMD outbreaks in Scotland. However, the size of the initial vaccine stock available at the start of the outbreak and the interplay with other factors, such as vaccine efficacy and delays in restocking or implementing vaccination, should be considered in making decisions about optimal control strategies for FMD outbreaks.

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