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Optimal Control

One of the main uses of mathematical models is that they can assess the impact of a range of potential control strategies rapidly, efficiently and with no risk to the population. Much of the applied work in WIDER therefore focuses on assessment of control strategies against a number of infectious diseases, and determining which of these potential strategies is optimal in terms of minimising costs while maximising benefits. Examples of this approach include:

  • Foot-and-Mouth Disease -- where we have considered the role of Continguous Premise Culling and Targetted Vaccination.
  • Bees Diseases -- where models have considered the resource implications and impact of additional serveillance following the identification of American Foulbrood in Jersey.
  • Avian Influenza -- where we focus on control in poultry populations using locally targetted strategies.
  • bovine Tuberculosis -- where our research has considered a range of strategies from risk-based trading patterns to cattle vaccination, from whole-herd culling to badger vaccination.
  • Influenza -- where research from WIDER helped refine policy during the 2009 pandemic; we have considered the effects of school closures, the optimal deployment of vaccine across different age-classes and the deployment of antivirals within households.
  • MRSA -- where work in collaboration with local hospitals has concentrated on optimal methods of surveillence for MRSA.

In addition to these applied problems, work in WIDER also considers the more methodology questions of how we determine the true optimal control strategy in a dynamic, ever-changing outbreak situation. Here ideas from optimal control theory are key to underpinning the development.