• High-resolution epidemic simulation using within-host infection and contact data.

      Nguyen, Van Kinh; Mikolajczyk, Rafael T; Hernandez-Vargas, Esteban Abelardo; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (BMC, 2018-07-17)
      BACKGROUND: Recent epidemics have entailed global discussions on revamping epidemic control and prevention approaches. A general consensus is that all sources of data should be embraced to improve epidemic preparedness. As a disease transmission is inherently governed by individual-level responses, pathogen dynamics within infected hosts posit high potentials to inform population-level phenomena. We propose a multiscale approach showing that individual dynamics were able to reproduce population-level observations. METHODS: Using experimental data, we formulated mathematical models of pathogen infection dynamics from which we simulated mechanistically its transmission parameters. The models were then embedded in our implementation of an age-specific contact network that allows to express individual differences relevant to the transmission processes. This approach is illustrated with an example of Ebola virus (EBOV). RESULTS: The results showed that a within-host infection model can reproduce EBOV's transmission parameters obtained from population data. At the same time, population age-structure, contact distribution and patterns can be expressed using network generating algorithm. This framework opens a vast opportunity to investigate individual roles of factors involved in the epidemic processes. Estimating EBOV's reproduction number revealed a heterogeneous pattern among age-groups, prompting cautions on estimates unadjusted for contact pattern. Assessments of mass vaccination strategies showed that vaccination conducted in a time window from five months before to one week after the start of an epidemic appeared to strongly reduce epidemic size. Noticeably, compared to a non-intervention scenario, a low critical vaccination coverage of 33% cannot ensure epidemic extinction but could reduce the number of cases by ten to hundred times as well as lessen the case-fatality rate. CONCLUSIONS: Experimental data on the within-host infection have been able to capture upfront key transmission parameters of a pathogen; the applications of this approach will give us more time to prepare for potential epidemics. The population of interest in epidemic assessments could be modelled with an age-specific contact network without exhaustive amount of data. Further assessments and adaptations for different pathogens and scenarios to explore multilevel aspects in infectious diseases epidemics are underway.