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Principal Investigator: John Edmunds, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine


The study aimed to fit mathematical and statistical models to the epidemiological and clinical data that were being collected and collated by partner agencies during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. In doing so, it has helped track changes in the epidemiology; analyse the impact of different countermeasures; and estimated the impact of different approaches to treat patients and control the epidemic.


The study developed a number of mathematical models of the spread of Ebola in West Africa and fitted these to emerging data using Bayesian methods. These models were used to inform a variety of decisions in real-time, and to evaluate the effectiveness of various interventions. The models and analyses, which were distributed widely to partners, were also used to help plan clinical trials more efficiently (in particular vaccine trials).

A series of district-level models were also developed (both deterministic and stochastic) to estimate the impact of Ebola treatment centres (ETCs) and Ebola Community Units (also known as Community Care Centres). The project further developed the model to assess the impact of the expansion of treatment beds in both Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Key Findings:

  • Impact of Ebola Community Units – Real-time models were used to help plan for how many treatment unit and community care centres might be required to limit the spread of the epidemic.
  • Evaluate changes in incidence and Case Fatality Rate (CFR) – These were tracked over time and across different geographical and organisational stratifications (e.g. by treatment unit). The study also correlated CFRs with underlying characteristics of the patients, e.g. age, sex, delay between onset and hospitalisations.
  • Develop and parameterise a real-time spatially explicit meta-population model – The research developed and parameterised a real-time spatially explicit meta-population model in which individuals could spread infection to others within their district (=prefectures or counties) or neighbouring districts. The model was fitted to the weekly incidence data on EVD and took account of under-reporting of cases and changes to the reproduction number over time.
  • Analyse individual-level data on previous EVD outbreaks from DRC – Data was compiled and analysed from all previous EVD outbreaks recorded from the Democratic Republic of Congo. These analyses and the full anonymised datasets were published and made freely available
  • Impact of Socio-cultural factors on disease spread – the study attempted to collect data on operational and behavioural variables, in order to correlate these with changes in the EVD reproduction number.

Key outputs:


Peer Reviewed Ebola

The impact of control strategies and behavioural changes on the elimination of Ebola from Lofa County, Liberia.

Peer Reviewed Ebola

Real-time forecasting of infectious disease dynamics with a stochastic semi-mechanistic model

Peer Reviewed Ebola

Temporal Changes in Ebola Transmission in Sierra Leone and Implications for Control Requirements: a Real-time Modelling Study

Peer Reviewed

Measuring the impact of Ebola control measures in Sierra Leone

Peer Reviewed

Estimating the probability of demonstrating vaccine efficacy in the declining Ebola epidemic : a Bayesian modelling approach

Peer Reviewed

Duration of Ebola virus RNA persistence in semen of survivors : population-level estimates and projections

Peer Reviewed

Effectiveness of ring vaccination as a control strategy for Ebola virus disease

Peer Reviewed

Efficacy and effectiveness of an rVSV-vectored vaccine expressing Ebola surface glycoprotein : interim results from the Guinea ring vaccination cluster-randomised trial

Peer Reviewed Ebola

The "Ebola ça suffit" Vaccine Trial Team. Ring vaccination for Ebola : a novel approach to evaluate vaccine efficacy and effectiveness during an outbreak

Peer Reviewed Ebola

Evaluation of the benefits and risks of introducing Ebola community care centers, Sierra Leone. Emerg Infect Dis

Peer Reviewed

Ebola Virus Disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo : 1976–2014

Latest Updates

Press release

Nov 2014

School researchers awarded new funding to strengthen Ebola response


Briefing Sheet

Apr 2015

Measuring the impact of Ebola Control Measures


Related News


Ebola treatment beds prevented thousands of new cases and deaths

R2HC Funding for Ebola Projects.  A Rapid Response

 In August 2014, the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa was declared an International Health Emergency by WHO and within a couple of weeks ELRHA launched a rapid-response call for research to combat the crisis.  The UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Wellcome Trust and ELRHA opened a special funding window through the Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) programme.

 The aim of this emergency call was both to produce robust research findings that could contribute to the effectiveness of the response to the current outbreak and help to draw lessons for future outbreaks of Ebola and other communicable diseases. The projects funded will strengthen the evidence base for the Ebola response in topics ranging from diagnostics to anthropology, surveillance and disease control.

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