Predicting the impact of disruptions in lymphatic filariasis elimination programmes due to the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and possible mitigation strategies
Prada JM., Stolk WA., Davis EL., Touloupou P., Sharma S., Muñoz J., Caja Rivera RM., Reimer LJ., Michael E., de Vlas SJ., Hollingsworth TD.
AbstractBackgroundIn view of the current global COVID-19 pandemic, mass drug administration interventions for neglected tropical diseases, including lymphatic filariasis, have been halted. We used mathematical modelling to estimate the impact of delaying or cancelling treatment rounds and explore possible mitigation strategies.MethodsWe used three established lymphatic filariasis transmission models to simulate infection trends in settings with annual treatment rounds and programme delays in 2020 of 6, 12, 18 or 24 months. We then evaluated the impact of various mitigation strategies upon resuming activities.ResultsThe delay in achieving the elimination goals is on average similar to the number of years the treatment rounds are missed. Enhanced interventions implemented for as little as one year can allow catch-up on the progress lost, and if maintained throughout the programme can lead to acceleration of up to 3 years.ConclusionsIn general, a short delay in the programme does not cause major delay in achieving the goals. Impact is strongest in high endemicity areas. Mitigation strategies such as biannual treatment or increased coverage are key to minimizing the impact of the disruption once the programme resumes; and lead to potential acceleration, should these enhanced strategies be maintained.