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Infectious Disease Modelling

Mathematical modelling helps us predict what might happen in real-world scenarios to increase our understanding of different situations and make better public policy decisions. Burnet’s researchers use modelling to figure out which combination of tools will have the biggest impact in specific regions, helping to save as many lives as possible while making sure that limited funds are used in the smartest way possible.

Our main objective is to develop and apply epidemiological and economic models to inform better public health decisions around resource allocations to maximise the health of populations.

Burnet’s dynamic, interdisciplinary team uses modelling to guide effective and cost-effective responses to infectious diseases and global health problems. We are at the forefront of modelling across numerous thematic areas, including:

  • COVID-19
  • hepatitis C
  • hepatitis B
  • HIV
  • tuberculosis (TB)
  • malaria
  • nutrition
  • maternal, newborn and child health
  • adolescent health
  • health systems and service delivery platforms.

Our methodological approaches are adapted to the data available and key policy questions being addressed and include a variety of:

  • deterministic and stochastic models
  • population-level and agent-based models
  • compartmental and network models
  • costing studies
  • cost-effectiveness analyses
  • cost-benefit and return on investment analyses
  • resource optimisation analyses
  • analyses of large datasets using statistical and machine learning approaches.

Here are some of the ways we’ve made a positive contribution to informing better public health decisions:

  • played a key part in informing governments and policymakers on the best approach to addressing infectious diseases such as malaria, HIV, TB and viral hepatitis in over 40 countries
  • had our Optima HIV mathematical modelling approach applied in over 60 countries globally to help support HIV-related investment choices
  • modelled ways in which COVID-19 restrictions could be fine-tuned to alleviate the social and economic burden of the lockdown without compromising control of the virus
  • undertook COVID modelling to analyse how vaccine rollout could be prioritised to minimise outbreak risk and what approaches should be taken if new cases are detected in the community
  • applied mathematical modelling to help predict the potential spread of hepatitis C in Australia
  • completed modelling in 2017 that demonstrated that more than 2000 HIV transmissions could be averted in Australia between 2017-2020 through better prevention, testing and treatment programs
  • provided analysis and recommendations that have created a return on investment for needle-syringe programs in over 20 countries.
36.3 million

is the number of years of life lost to ill health, disability or early death resulting from hepatitis B that could be prevented if the cost-effective ways to improve the delivery and management of the HBV vaccine, as identified in a Burnet study, were to be implemented.

15.7 million

is the number of malaria cases in Nigeria that could be prevented by implementing appropriate interventions in the right locations, as identified in modelling done by researchers supported by Burnet.

€2.8 million

is the amount of TB treatment costs that could be reduced in Moldova if an extended ambulatory care model of TB treatment was implemented, as identified in a Burnet-supported study. The country could achieve the same treatment outcomes while significantly reducing costs compared to the current hospital-based care model.


is the number of people identified in Burnet modelling who would need treatment each year from 2020 to 2030 to meet Myanmar’s 2030 national strategy target. This would avert an estimated 25,000 HCV-related deaths and 40,000 new infections (compared to the status quo scenario of treating 4,000 people annually).

Working Groups

Burnet is an Australian-based medical research and public health institute and international non-government organisation that is working towards a more equitable world through better health.