Despite a strong global commitment, polio eradication efforts continue now more than 30 years after the 1988 World Health Assembly resolution that established the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), and 20 years after the original target of the year 2000. Prior health economic analyses estimated incremental net benefits of the GPEI of 40-50 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars (US$2008, equivalent to 48-59 billion US$2019), assuming the achievement of polio eradication by 2012. Given the delays in achieving polio eradication and increased costs, we performed an updated economic analysis of the GPEI using an updated integrated global model, and considering the GPEI trajectory as of the beginning of 2020. Applying similar methods and assuming eradication achievement in 2023, we estimate incremental net benefits of the GPEI of 28 billion US$2019, which falls below the prior estimate. Delays in achieving polio eradication combined with the widescale introduction of relatively expensive inactivated poliovirus vaccine significantly increased the costs of the GPEI and make it less cost-effective, although the GPEI continues to yield expected incremental net benefits at the global level when considered over the time horizon of 1988-2029. The overall health and financial benefits of the GPEI will depend on whether and when the GPEI can achieve its goals, when eradication occurs, the valuation method applied, and the path dependence of the actions taken. Reduced expected incremental net benefits of the GPEI and the substantial economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic pose large financial risks for the GPEI.
Keywords: Cost; eradication; polio.
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