Morrison LTR, Anderson B, Brower A, Talbird SE, Buell N, MacDonald PDM, Metz L, Gaudig M, Oriol Mathieu V, Honeycutt AA. Macroeconomic impact of Ebola outbreaks in Sub-Saharan Africa and potential mitigation of GDP loss with prophylactic Ebola vaccination programs. PLoS One. 2023 Apr 11;18(4):e0283721. doi: 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.

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 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 living standards, which was greatest in the third year after the onset of each outbreak and increased exponentially with the size of the outbreak (i.e., number of reported cases). Overall, up to a 36% decline in living standards was identified. Prophylactic vaccination could have prevented up to 89% of an outbreak's negative impact on GDP.

CONCLUSION: This study provides novel findings about the potential economic value associated with prophylactic Ebola vaccination and the important role of preventive strategies in reducing the economic and health impact of future Ebola outbreaks. It provides the first evidence of causal impacts of Ebola outbreaks on the macroeconomy of countries where these occur by applying the synthetic control method. Our findings support recommendations for prophylactic Ebola vaccination as a core component of prevention and response measures for global health security.

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