Our aim is to support polio eradication efforts from the national to the global level by conducting policy relevant research and computer simulations. We use advanced analytics and disease transmission models to project the impact of the strategies currently being used to fight the disease, and to evaluate the impact that novel strategies could have before they are rolled out to the field. Our polio work spans the following topics:
Poliomyelitis is an acute, viral, infectious disease spread from person to person, primarily via the fecal oral route. Although approximately polio infections cause no symptoms or flu-like symptoms, except in about 1% of cases when the virus enters the central nervous system, preferentially infecting and destroying motor neurons, and leading to acute flaccid paralysis. Two vaccines are used around the world to protect against polio: a killed vaccine developed by Jonas Salk, and a live attenuated vaccine developed by Albert Sabin. A global campaign to eradicate this virus from the world began in 1988. Today, only two countries have never interrupted endemic transmission: Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
Disease modeling plays a crucial role in evaluating what impact disease risk factors and control measures will have over time. In certain cases, simple models can be sufficient in describing population-wide dynamics, and the most salient features of polio epidemiology. In other cases, we dive into the details of the immunology, the transmission, and the population structure in order to capture what will make the models most realistic and complete with respect to the question being studied. In this section, we present both models using simple and detailed disease models.
Statistical models can be very powerful in extracting information from extensive data sets, in summarizing trends, and in predicting risks. In our study of poliovirus epidemiology, we construct descriptive statistics and predictive risk models. With the first, we can describe patterns in the virus movement, study the herd immunity threshold, and study the apparent transmissibility of the virus across different age groups. With the second, we put together these and other insights into models to predict, among others, cVDPV emergence, and the propagation of WPV.
Vaccination programs can generate large amounts of diverse types of data, from coverage estimates to operation and management indicators. Coverage information is useful in quantifying the impact these programs have in reducing disease. Management and operations data sets can be useful diagnostics in determining which parts of the systems are performing well, and which parts can be improved when striving for greater coverage. We work to provide innovative indicators and diagnostics for the varied measured built upon vaccination program data, that can be used by these programs to better estimate their impact, identify poor-performing areas, and target their efforts.
Oral live attenuated polio vaccine (OPV) and inactivated polio vaccine (IPV)are powerful but imperfect tools.Establishing and maintaining global polio eradication requires carefully considering how best to use both. Our research is focused on questions that will help further rationalize global polio vaccination policy to complete eradication and provide durable post-eradication protection.