Foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks in non-endemic countries can lead to large economic costs and livestock losses but the use of vaccination has been contentious, partly due to uncertainty about emergency FMD vaccination. Value of information methods can be applied to disease outbreak problems such as FMD in order to investigate the performance improvement from resolving uncertainties. Here we calculate the expected value of resolving uncertainty about vaccine efficacy, time delay to immunity after vaccination and daily vaccination capacity for a hypothetical FMD outbreak in the UK. If it were possible to resolve all uncertainty prior to the introduction of control, we could expect savings of £55 million in outbreak cost, 221,900 livestock culled and 4.3 days of outbreak duration. All vaccination strategies were found to be preferable to a culling only strategy. However, the optimal vaccination radius was found to be highly dependent upon vaccination capacity for all management objectives. We calculate that by resolving the uncertainty surrounding vaccination capacity we would expect to return over 85% of the above savings, regardless of management objective. It may be possible to resolve uncertainty about daily vaccination capacity before an outbreak, and this would enable decision makers to select the optimal control action via careful contingency planning.
In the UK during 2001 there was an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) which cost the economy an estimated £8 billion and led to the culling of approximately 7 million livestock. The main methods used to control the epidemic were movement bans and culling of infected and high-risk livestock. FMD vaccines were available but not used because of concerns about their effectiveness and how their use would affect the UK’s disease-free status. Using the Warwick FMD model, we ran simulations of FMD outbreaks in the UK including ring vaccination as a method of outbreak control with varying levels of vaccine efficacy, time delay between vaccination and conferral of immunity, and vaccination capacity. We applied value of information analysis to these results and found that the most important factor in determining the optimal vaccination strategy was knowledge of the vaccination capacity. In contrast, vaccine efficacy and delay between vaccination and immunity were relatively unimportant from a decision making perspective. This work could inform contingency planning that would lead to cost savings in the event of a future FMD outbreak and could also be applied to other infectious diseases.
Bradbury NV, Probert WJM, Shea K, Runge MC, Fonnesbeck CJ, Keeling MJ, et al. (2017) Quantifying the Value of Perfect Information in Emergency Vaccination Campaigns. PLoS Comput Biol 13(2): e1005318. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005318