Pandemic controllability: A concept to guide a proportionate and flexible operational response to future influenza pandemics

J. M. McCaw*, K. Glass, G. N. Mercer, J. McVernon

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic posed challenges for governments worldwide. Strategies designed to limit community transmission, such as antiviral deployment, were largely ineffective due to both feasibility constraints and the generally mild nature of disease, resulting in incomplete case ascertainment. Reviews of national pandemic plans have identified pandemic impact, primarily linked to measures of transmissibility and severity, as a key concept to incorporate into the next generation of plans. While an assessment of impact provides the rationale under which interventions may be warranted, it does not directly provide an assessment on whether particular interventions may be effective. Such considerations motivate our introduction of the concept of pandemic controllability. For case-targeted interventions, such as antiviral treatment and post-exposure prophylaxis, we identify the visibility and transmissibility of a pandemic as the key drivers of controllability. Taking a case-study approach, we suggest that high-impact pandemics, for which control is most desirable, are likely uncontrollable with case-targeted interventions. Strategies that do not rely on the identification of cases may prove relatively more effective. By introducing a pragmatic framework for relating the assessment of impact to the ability to mitigate an epidemic (controllability), we hope to address a present omission identified in pandemic response plans.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5-12
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Public Health
    Volume36
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014

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