DOI: 10.1002/nav.22142 ISSN:

Spatiotemporal vaccine allocation policies for epidemics with behavioral feedback dynamics

Julius Barth, Su Li, Hrayer Aprahamian, Diwakar Gupta
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Modeling and Simulation


Motivated by the COVID‐19 pandemic, we study how a public health authority may allocate vaccines from a limited stockpile to different jurisdictions over time. We propose an epidemiological model with time‐varying contact rates determined by a stylized behavioral feedback mechanism to reflect multi‐wave transmission dynamics. We evaluate the performance of various information‐sensitive allocation policies (e.g., allocation proportional to local incidence) as alternatives to the widely used pro‐rata policy. We also obtain optimized allocation strategies under the proposed epidemiological model with fairness and implementable freeze‐period constraints. For the case of a multi‐wave epidemic as represented by our compartmental model with behavioral feedback, we find that none of the alternative policies offers consistently more efficient allocations than a simple pro‐rata policy across a broad range of behavioral parameter settings. In fact, in some cases the alternative policies may actually result in less efficient allocations than the pro‐rata policy. Thus our results support the conclusion that the widely used pro‐rata policy can be well justified because it is simple to explain/implement and does not cause unexpected adverse effects. However, if policy makers are willing to invest in more tailored strategies based on numerical optimization, then the identified optimized strategies are a more favorable option as they allow for a more efficient allocation of vaccines.

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