Macroeconomic impact of Ebola outbreaks in sub-Saharan Africa and potential mitigation of GDP loss with prophylactic Ebola vaccination programs
Morrison, L. T. R., Anderson, B., Brower, A., Talbird, S. E., Buell, N., MacDonald, P. D. M., Metz, L., Gaudig, M., Oriol Mathieu, V., & Honeycutt, A. A. (2023). Macroeconomic impact of Ebola outbreaks in sub-Saharan Africa and potential mitigation of GDP loss with prophylactic Ebola vaccination programs. PLoS One, 18(4), Article e0283721. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0283721
INTRODUCTION: Decisions about prevention of and response to Ebola outbreaks require an understanding of the macroeconomic implications of these interventions. Prophylactic vaccines hold promise to mitigate the negative economic impacts of infectious disease outbreaks. The objective of this study was to evaluate the relationship between outbreak size and economic impact among countries with recorded Ebola outbreaks and to quantify the hypothetical benefits of prophylactic Ebola vaccination interventions in these outbreaks.
METHODS: The synthetic control method was used to estimate the causal impacts of Ebola outbreaks on per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of five countries in sub-Saharan Africa that have previously experienced Ebola outbreaks between 2000 and 2016, where no vaccines were deployed. Using illustrative assumptions about vaccine coverage, efficacy, and protective immunity, the potential economic benefits of prophylactic Ebola vaccination were estimated using the number of cases in an outbreak as a key indicator.
RESULTS: The impact of Ebola outbreaks on the macroeconomy of the selected countries led to a decline in GDP of up to 36%, which was greatest in the third year after the onset of each outbreak and increased exponentially with the size of outbreak (i.e., number of reported cases). Over three years, the aggregate loss estimated for Sierra Leone from its 2014-2016 outbreak is estimated at 16.1 billion International$. Prophylactic vaccination could have prevented up to 89% of an outbreak's negative impact on GDP, reducing the outbreak's impact to as little as 1.6% of GDP lost.
CONCLUSION: This study supports the case that macroeconomic returns are associated with prophylactic Ebola vaccination. Our findings support recommendations for prophylactic Ebola vaccination as a core component of prevention and response measures for global health security.