The global burden of yellow fever

Elife. 2021 Mar 16:10:e64670. doi: 10.7554/eLife.64670.


Yellow fever (YF) is a viral, vector-borne, haemorrhagic fever endemic in tropical regions of Africa and South America. The vaccine for YF is considered safe and effective, but intervention strategies need to be optimised; one of the tools for this is mathematical modelling. We refine and expand an existing modelling framework for Africa to account for transmission in South America. We fit to YF occurrence and serology data. We then estimate the subnational forces of infection for the entire endemic region. Finally, using demographic and vaccination data, we examine the impact of vaccination activities. We estimate that there were 109,000 (95% credible interval [CrI] [67,000-173,000]) severe infections and 51,000 (95% CrI [31,000-82,000]) deaths due to YF in Africa and South America in 2018. We find that mass vaccination activities in Africa reduced deaths by 47% (95% CrI [10%-77%]). This methodology allows us to evaluate the effectiveness of vaccination and illustrates the need for continued vigilance and surveillance of YF.

Keywords: epidemiology; global health; mathematical modelling; vaccine impact; vector-borne; virus; yellow fever.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Africa / epidemiology
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Global Burden of Disease*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Mass Vaccination / statistics & numerical data
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • South America / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vaccination / methods
  • Yellow Fever / epidemiology*
  • Yellow Fever / prevention & control
  • Yellow Fever / transmission
  • Yellow Fever Vaccine / therapeutic use


  • Yellow Fever Vaccine

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.47v3c