Monthly Archives: September 2016

Three-Month Real-Time Dengue Forecast Models: An Early Warning System for Outbreak Alerts and Policy Decision Support in Singapore



With its tropical rainforest climate, rapid urbanization, and changing demography and ecology, Singapore experiences endemic dengue; the last large outbreak in 2013 culminated in 22,170 cases. In the absence of a vaccine on the market, vector control is the key approach for prevention.


We sought to forecast the evolution of dengue epidemics in Singapore to provide early warning of outbreaks and to facilitate the public health response to moderate an impending outbreak.


We developed a set of statistical models using least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO) methods to forecast the weekly incidence of dengue notifications over a 3-month time horizon. This forecasting tool used a variety of data streams and was updated weekly, including recent case data, meteorological data, vector surveillance data, and population-based national statistics. The forecasting methodology was compared with alternative approaches that have been proposed to model dengue case data (seasonal autoregressive integrated moving average and step-down linear regression) by fielding them on the 2013 dengue epidemic, the largest on record in Singapore.


Operationally useful forecasts were obtained at a 3-month lag using the LASSO-derived models. Based on the mean average percentage error, the LASSO approach provided more accurate forecasts than the other methods we assessed. We demonstrate its utility in Singapore’s dengue control program by providing a forecast of the 2013 outbreak for advance preparation of outbreak response.


Statistical models built using machine learning methods such as LASSO have the potential to markedly improve forecasting techniques for recurrent infectious disease outbreaks such as dengue.

Citation: Shi Y, Liu X, Kok SY, Rajarethinam J, Liang S, Yap G, Chong CS, Lee KS, Tan SS, Chin CK, Lo A, Kong W, Ng LC, Cook AR. 2016. Three-month real-time dengue forecast models: an early warning system for outbreak alerts and policy decision support in Singapore. Environ Health Perspect 124:1369–1375;

Full-Text Available Here

The State of Vaccine Confidence 2016: Global Insights Through a 67-Country Survey



Public trust in immunization is an increasingly important global health issue. Losses in confidence in vaccines and immunization programmes can lead to vaccine reluctance and refusal, risking disease outbreaks and challenging immunization goals in high- and low-income settings. National and international immunization stakeholders have called for better monitoring of vaccine confidence to identify emerging concerns before they evolve into vaccine confidence crises.


We perform a large-scale, data-driven study on worldwide attitudes to immunizations. This survey – which we believe represents the largest survey on confidence in immunization to date – examines perceptions of vaccine importance, safety, effectiveness, and religious compatibility among 65,819 individuals across 67 countries. Hierarchical models are employed to probe relationships between individual- and country-level socio-economic factors and vaccine attitudes obtained through the four-question, Likert-scale survey.


Overall sentiment towards vaccinations is positive across all 67 countries, however there is wide variability between countries and across world regions. Vaccine-safety related sentiment is particularly negative in the European region, which has seven of the ten least confident countries, with 41% of respondents in France and 36% of respondents in Bosnia & Herzegovina reporting that they disagree that vaccines are safe (compared to a global average of 13%). The oldest age group (65+) and Roman Catholics (amongst all faiths surveyed) are associated with positive views on vaccine sentiment, while the Western Pacific region reported the highest level of religious incompatibility with vaccines. Countries with high levels of schooling and good access to health services are associated with lower rates of positive sentiment, pointing to an emerging inverse relationship between vaccine sentiments and socio-economic status.


Regular monitoring of vaccine attitudes – coupled with monitoring of local immunization rates – at the national and sub-national levels can identify populations with declining confidence and acceptance. These populations should be prioritized to further investigate the drivers of negative sentiment and to inform appropriate interventions to prevent adverse public health outcomes.

Citation: Larson, H. J., De Figueiredo, A., Xiahong, Z., Schulz, W. S., Verger, P., Johnston, I. G., … & Jones, N. S. (2016). The state of vaccine confidence 2016: global insights through a 67-country survey. EBioMedicine12, 295-301.

Full-Text Available Here

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