Projections of Ebola outbreak size and duration with and without vaccine use in Équateur, Democratic Republic of Congo, as of May 27, 2018

PLoS One. 2019 Mar 7;14(3):e0213190. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0213190. eCollection 2019.


As of May 27, 2018, 6 suspected, 13 probable and 35 confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) had been reported in Équateur Province, Democratic Republic of Congo. We used reported case counts and time series from prior outbreaks to estimate the total outbreak size and duration with and without vaccine use. We modeled Ebola virus transmission using a stochastic branching process model that included reproduction numbers from past Ebola outbreaks and a particle filtering method to generate a probabilistic projection of the outbreak size and duration conditioned on its reported trajectory to date; modeled using high (62%), low (44%), and zero (0%) estimates of vaccination coverage (after deployment). Additionally, we used the time series for 18 prior Ebola outbreaks from 1976 to 2016 to parameterize the Thiel-Sen regression model predicting the outbreak size from the number of observed cases from April 4 to May 27. We used these techniques on probable and confirmed case counts with and without inclusion of suspected cases. Probabilistic projections were scored against the actual outbreak size of 54 EVD cases, using a log-likelihood score. With the stochastic model, using high, low, and zero estimates of vaccination coverage, the median outbreak sizes for probable and confirmed cases were 82 cases (95% prediction interval [PI]: 55, 156), 104 cases (95% PI: 58, 271), and 213 cases (95% PI: 64, 1450), respectively. With the Thiel-Sen regression model, the median outbreak size was estimated to be 65.0 probable and confirmed cases (95% PI: 48.8, 119.7). Among our three mathematical models, the stochastic model with suspected cases and high vaccine coverage predicted total outbreak sizes closest to the true outcome. Relatively simple mathematical models updated in real time may inform outbreak response teams with projections of total outbreak size and duration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Democratic Republic of the Congo / epidemiology
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / epidemiology*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Vaccination*

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.7598873.v1