Likelihood-based estimation and prediction for a measles outbreak in Samoa

David Wu, Helen Petousis-Harris, Janine Paynter, Vinod Suresh, Oliver J. Maclaren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Prediction of the progression of an infectious disease outbreak is important for planning and coordinating a response. Differential equations are often used to model an epidemic outbreak's behaviour but are challenging to parameterise. Furthermore, these models can suffer from misspecification, which biases predictions and parameter estimates. Stochastic models can help with misspecification but are even more expensive to simulate and perform inference with. Here, we develop an explicitly likelihood-based variation of the generalised profiling method as a tool for prediction and inference under model misspecification. Our approach allows us to carry out identifiability analysis and uncertainty quantification using profile likelihood-based methods without the need for marginalisation. We provide justification for this approach by introducing a new interpretation of the model approximation component as a stochastic constraint. This preserves the rationale for using profiling rather than integration to remove nuisance parameters while also providing a link back to stochastic models. We applied an initial version of this method during an outbreak of measles in Samoa in 2019–2020 and found that it achieved relatively fast, accurate predictions. Here we present the most recent version of our method and its application to this measles outbreak, along with additional validation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-227
Number of pages16
JournalInfectious Disease Modelling
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Bootstrap
  • Generalised profiling
  • Likelihood-based inference
  • Measles
  • Parameter estimation
  • Profile likelihood

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