Modelling the impact of COVID-19-related programme interruptions on visceral leishmaniasis in India

Epke A. Le Rutte*, Luc E. Coffeng, Johanna Munoz, Sake J. De Vlas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Background: In March 2020, India declared a nationwide lockdown to control the spread of coronavirus disease 2019. As a result, control efforts against visceral leishmaniasis (VL) were interrupted.

Methods: Using an established age-structured deterministic VL transmission model, we predicted the impact of a 6-to 24-month programme interruption on the timeline towards achieving the VL elimination target as well as on the increase of VL cases. We also explored the potential impact of a mitigation strategy after the interruption.

Results: Delays towards the elimination target are estimated to range between 0 and 9 y. Highly endemic settings where control efforts have been ongoing for 5-8 y are most affected by an interruption, for which we identified a mitigation strategy to be most relevant. However, more importantly, all settings can expect an increase in the number of VL cases. This increase is substantial even for settings with a limited expected delay in achieving the elimination target.

Conclusions: Besides implementing mitigation strategies, it is of great importance to try and keep the duration of the interruption as short as possible to prevent new individuals from becoming infected with VL and continue the efforts towards VL elimination as a public health problem in India.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-235
Number of pages7
JournalTransactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number3
Early online date13 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021

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