Modelling of optimal vaccination strategies in response to a bioterrorism associated smallpox outbreak

The reemergence of smallpox as a bioterrorism attack is now an increasing and legitimate concern. Advances in synthetic biology have now made it possible for the virus to be synthesized in a laboratory, with methods publicly available. Smallpox introduction into a susceptible population, with increased immunosuppression and an aging population, raises questions of how vaccination should be used in an epidemic situation when supply may be limited. We constructed three modified susceptible-latent-infectious-recovered (SEIR) models to simulate targeted, ring and mass vaccination in response to a smallpox outbreak in Sydney, Australia. This study used age-specific distributions of susceptibility, infectivity, contact rates, and tested outputs under different assumptions. The number of doses needed of second- and third-generation vaccines are estimated, along with the total number of deaths at the end of the epidemic. The study found a faster response is the key and ring vaccination of traced contacts is the most effective strategy and requires a smaller number of doses. However if public health authorities are unable to trace a high proportion of contacts, mass vaccination with at least 125,000 doses delivered per day is required. This study informs a better preparedness and response planning for vaccination in a case of a smallpox outbreak in a setting such as Sydney.

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