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Preparedness and capacity building for emerging epidemics

Improving Public Health Policy in Europe through Modelling and Economic Evaluation of Interventions for the Control of Infectious Diseases

EC contribution
: € 1 613 500
: 48 months
Starting date
: 01/09/2004
: modelling infectious diseases; contact patterns; health economics; policy evaluation
Project Number
: SP22-CT-2004-502084


The aim of POLYMOD is to strengthen public health decision-making in Europe through the development, standardisation and application of mathematical, risk assessment and economic models of infectious diseases. There are four issues that are addressed by this project. The first is that mathematical models are only as good as the assumptions and parameters on which they are built.

Patterns of mixing are central determinants of the transmission of many infections. However, little is known about contemporary mixing patterns. POLYMOD has therefore surveyed, for the first time, epidemiologically relevant contact patterns from representative samples of eight difference European countries. These internationally important datasets have been supplemented by other information sources, including serological data from a number of different countries.

New techniques have been developed to analyse these data, and they are already proving invaluable in helping improve our understanding of transmission mechanisms and helping improve mathematical models. Predicting the impact of control programmes against infectious diseases requires the use of sophisticated transmission dynamic models, as, due to the infectious nature of the organism, interventions often have knock-on effects beyond those that were directly targeted.

POLYMOD has adapted and developed such models, based on the contact pattern data, to address a number of public health issues, such as the impact that vaccination against varicella may have on the epidemiology of varicella zoster virus-related disease. In addition, novel techniques for assessing dose-response relationships and estimating incidence for use in risk assessments of gastrointestinal pathogens have been developed.

The results from models are being combined with cost and outcome data in a series of economic analyses to assess the cost-effectiveness of different vaccination programmes in Europe. Finally, the results are being presented to policymakers with the aim of helping improve public health decision-making.

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