OBJECTIVE: The presence of the highly pathogenic avian H5N1 virus in wild bird populations in several regions of the world, together with recurrent cases of H5N1 influenza arising primarily from direct contact with poultry, have highlighted the urgent need for preparedness and coordinated global strategies to effectively combat a potential influenza pandemic. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the Canadian pandemic influenza preparedness plan.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: A mathematical model of the transmission dynamics of influenza was used to keep track of the population according to risk of infection (low or high) and infection status (susceptible, exposed or infectious). The model was parametrized using available Canadian demographic data. The model was then used to evaluate the key components outlined in the Canadian plan.
RESULTS: The results indicated that the number of cases, mortalities and hospitalizations estimated in the Canadian plan may have been underestimated; the use of antivirals, administered therapeutically, prophylactically or both, is the most effective single intervention followed by the use of a vaccine and basic public health measures; and the combined use of pharmaceutical interventions (antivirals and vaccine) can dramatically minimize the burden of the pending influenza pandemic in Canada. Based on increasing concerns of Oseltamivir resistance (wide-scale implementation), coupled with the expected unavailability of a suitable vaccine during the early stages of a pandemic, the present study evaluated the potential impact of nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) which were not emphasized in the current Canadian plan. To this end, the findings suggest that the use of NPIs can drastically reduce the burden of a pandemic in Canada.
CONCLUSIONS: A deterministic model was designed and used to assess Canada’s pandemic preparedness plan. The study showed that the estimates of pandemic influenza burden given in the Canada pandemic preparedness plan may be an underestimate, and that Canada needs to adopt NPIs to complement its preparedness plan.
AB Gumel, M Nuño, G Chowell. Mathematical assessment of Canada’s pandemic influenza preparedness plan. Can J Infect Dis Med Microbiol 2008;19(2):185-192.