An economic evaluation of Wolbachia deployments for dengue control in Vietnam

H. C. Turner, D. L. Quyen, R. Dias, P. T. Huong, C. P. Simmons and K. L. Anders,  PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases,  17:e0011356. 2023.

INTRODUCTION: Dengue is a major public health challenge and a growing problem due to climate change. The release of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes infected with the intracellular bacterium Wolbachia is a novel form of vector control against dengue. However, there remains a need to evaluate the benefits of such an intervention at a large scale. In this paper, we evaluate the potential economic impact and cost-effectiveness of scaled Wolbachia deployments as a form of dengue control in Vietnam-targeted at the highest burden urban areas. METHODS: Ten settings within Vietnam were identified as priority locations for potential future Wolbachia deployments (using a population replacement strategy). The effectiveness of Wolbachia deployments in reducing the incidence of symptomatic dengue cases was assumed to be 75%. We assumed that the intervention would maintain this effectiveness for at least 20 years (but tested this assumption in the sensitivity analysis). A cost-utility analysis and cost-benefit analysis were conducted. RESULTS: From the health sector perspective, the Wolbachia intervention was projected to cost US$420 per disability-adjusted life year (DALY) averted. From the societal perspective, the overall cost-effectiveness ratio was negative, i.e. the economic benefits outweighed the costs. These results are contingent on the long-term effectiveness of Wolbachia releases being sustained for 20 years. However, the intervention was still classed as cost-effective across the majority of the settings when assuming only 10 years of benefits. CONCLUSION: Overall, we found that targeting high burden cities with Wolbachia deployments would be a cost-effective intervention in Vietnam and generate notable broader benefits besides health gains.

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