Evaluation of Proactive and Reactive Strategies for Polio Eradication Activities in Pakistan and Afghanistan

Risk Anal. 2019 Feb;39(2):389-401. doi: 10.1111/risa.13194. Epub 2018 Sep 21.


Only Pakistan and Afghanistan reported any polio cases caused by serotype 1 wild polioviruses (WPV1s) in 2017. With the dwindling cases in both countries and pressure to finish eradication with the least possible resources, a danger exists of inappropriate prioritization of efforts between the two countries and insufficient investment in the two countries to finish the job. We used an existing differential-equation-based poliovirus transmission and oral poliovirus (OPV) evolution model to simulate a proactive strategy to stop transmission, and different hypothetical reactive strategies that adapt the quality of supplemental immunization activities (SIAs) in response to observed polio cases in Pakistan and Afghanistan. To account for the delay in perception and adaptation, we related the coverage of the SIAs in high-risk, undervaccinated subpopulations to the perceived (i.e., smoothed) polio incidence. Continuation of the current frequency and quality of SIAs remains insufficient to eradicate WPV1 in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Proactive strategies that significantly improve and sustain SIA quality lead to WPV1 eradication and the prevention of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) outbreaks. Reactive vaccination efforts that adapt moderately quickly and independently to changes in polio incidence in each country may succeed in WPV1 interruption after several cycles of outbreaks, or may interrupt WPV1 transmission in one country but subsequently import WPV1 from the other country or enable the emergence of cVDPV outbreaks. Reactive vaccination efforts that adapt independently and either more rapidly or more slowly to changes in polio incidence in each country may similarly fail to interrupt WPV1 transmission and result in oscillations of the incidence. Reactive strategies that divert resources to the country of highest priority may lead to alternating large outbreaks. Achieving WPV1 eradication and subsequent successful OPV cessation in Pakistan and Afghanistan requires proactive and sustained efforts to improve vaccination intensity in under-vaccinated subpopulations while maintaining high population immunity elsewhere.

Keywords: Dynamic modeling; polio eradication; risk management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Afghanistan / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease Eradication
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pakistan / epidemiology
  • Poliomyelitis / prevention & control*
  • Poliovirus
  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Oral / therapeutic use*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Program Evaluation
  • Risk Assessment
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vaccination
  • Young Adult


  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Oral