Ability of epidemiological studies to monitor HPV post-vaccination dynamics: a simulation study

M. lanie Bonneault, Elisabeth Delarocque-Astagneau, Maxime Flauder, Johannes A. Bogaards, Didier Guillemot, Lulla Opatowski, Anne C. M. Thiébaut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infections are caused by a broad diversity of genotypes. As available vaccines target a subgroup of these genotypes, monitoring transmission dynamics of nonvaccine genotypes is essential. After reviewing the epidemiological literature on study designs aiming to monitor those dynamics, we evaluated their abilities to detect HPV-prevalence changes following vaccine introduction. We developed an agent-based model to simulate HPV transmission in a heterosexual population under various scenarios of vaccine coverage and genotypic interaction, and reproduced two study designs: post-vs-prevaccine and vaccinated-vs-unvaccinated comparisons. We calculated the total sample size required to detect statistically significant prevalence differences at the 5% significance level and 80% power. Although a decrease in vaccine-genotype prevalence was detectable as early as 1 year after vaccine introduction, simulations indicated that the indirect impact on nonvaccine-genotype prevalence (a decrease under synergistic interaction or an increase under competitive interaction) would only be measurable after >10 years whatever the vaccine coverage. Sample sizes required for nonvaccine genotypes were >5 times greater than for vaccine genotypes and tended to be smaller in the post-vs-prevaccine than in the vaccinated-vs-unvaccinated design. These results highlight that previously published epidemiological studies were not powerful enough to efficiently detect changes in nonvaccine-genotype prevalence.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere31
JournalEpidemiology and Infection
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2023


  • Agent-based modelling
  • genotype interactions
  • human papillomavirus
  • observational study simulations
  • vaccination

Cite this