Hidden heterogeneity and its influence on dengue vaccination impact.


The CYD-TDV vaccine was recently developed to combat dengue, a mosquito-borne viral disease that afflicts millions of people each year throughout the tropical and subtropical world. Its rollout has been complicated by recent findings that vaccinees with no prior exposure to dengue virus (DENV) experience an elevated risk of severe disease in response to their first DENV infection subsequent to vaccination. As a result of these findings, guidelines for use of CYD-TDV now require serological screening prior to vaccination to establish that an individual does not fall into this high-risk category. These complications mean that the public health impact of CYD-TDV vaccination is expected to be higher in areas with higher transmission. One important practical difficulty with tailoring vaccination policy to local transmission contexts is that DENV transmission is spatially heterogeneous, even at the scale of neighborhoods or blocks within a city. This raises the question of whether models based on data that average over spatial heterogeneity in transmission could fail to capture important aspects of CYD-TDV impact in spatially heterogeneous populations. We explored this question with a deterministic model of DENV transmission and CYD-TDV vaccination in a population comprised of two communities with differing transmission intensities. Compared to the full model, a version of the model based on the average of the two communities failed to capture benefits of targeting the intervention to the high-transmission community, which resulted in greater impact in both communities than we observed under even coverage. In addition, the model based on the average of the two communities substantially overestimated impact among vaccinated individuals in the low-transmission community. In the event that the specificity of serological screening is not high, this result suggests that models that ignore spatial heterogeneity could overlook the potential for harm to this segment of the population.

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