Mentor: Ben Althouse
Title: Cost effectiveness of including a whole-cell Bordetella pertussis vaccine in current vaccination programs
Abstract: Recent evidence suggests that the current acellular Bordetella pertussis vaccine (aP) protects against whooping cough disease, but not against secondary transmission of the B. pertussis bacterium. It is likely that the aP vaccine allows for asymptomatic B. pertussis infections, allowing people to unknowingly transmit infection to other vaccinated and un-vaccinated individuals. Importantly, this includes neonatal infants too young to be vaccinated, where the mortality rate from whooping cough can be up to 3 times that of adolescents and adults. This project explores the possibility of switching back to the highly effective, yet side-affect prone, whole-cell pertussis vaccine (wP). To do this, we must answer the question: is the potential for increased transmissibility associated with aP vaccination more or less costly to the population than the side-effects associated with wP vaccination? First, we will build and run a model to determine the excess number of pertussis cases in scenarios where an aP vaccine is used, and the number of adverse events where a wP vaccine is used. Then, using literature-derived estimates of costs of infant mortality and vaccine-associated adverse events, we will run a cost-benefit analysis to determine which vaccine is more cost-effective for the population as a whole. We hypothesize that a switch back to the wP vaccine will be economically and ethically beneficial for the population.