Small increase in COVID-19 vaccine coverage could prevent millions of cases, model shows
A COVID-19 vaccination model demonstrated that achieving 50% coverage by the summer could prevent almost 6 million additional cases in the United States compared with achieving that milestone in the fall, researchers reported.
“Previous work including ours has shown that 70% to 80% or more of the population needs to be vaccinated or immune to the SARS-CoV-2 to slow the spread of the virus to the point that precautions like social distancing are no longer needed,” Bruce Y. Lee, MD, MBA, professor of health policy management and executive director of Public Health Informatics, Computational, and Operation Research at the City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, told Healio.
“Knowing the savings, including the cost savings, of increasing vaccination coverage levels by different amounts can help policymakers and other decision-makers know how much should be invested in efforts to get more people vaccinated, such as ad campaigns, community outreach, establishing new vaccination locations, hiring more vaccination personnel, etc.,” Lee said.
Lee and colleagues developed a computational model to determine the impact of increasing COVID-19 vaccine coverage and expediting time to achieve coverage. They study was published in early May.
The study demonstrated that when achieving a given vaccination coverage in 270 days with a vaccine that is 70% effective, every 1% increase in coverage can prevent an average of 876,800 cases although Lee and colleagues said this result may vary depending on the number of people already vaccinated.
Lee noted that even small increases in vaccination coverage can produce significant savings. For example, they found that each 1% increase between 40% and 50% coverage can prevent 1.5 million cases, 56,240 hospitalizations, 6,660 deaths, gain 77,590 quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), save $602.8 million in direct medical costs and $1.3 billion in productivity losses.
Based on this model, the researchers said that expediting that 270-day model to 180 days — achieving 50% coverage by the summer rather than the fall — could save an additional 5.8 million cases, 215,790 hospitalizations, 26,370 deaths, 206,520 QALYs, $3.5 billion in direct medical costs and $4.3 billion in productivity losses.
According to the CDC, as of June 7, 42.1% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated.
“Programs and efforts to get more people vaccinated will yield substantial savings. Even relatively small increases in vaccination coverage will yield substantial savings,” Lee said. “Timing is important, so the sooner people can get vaccinated the better, even when vaccine effectiveness may decrease such as with future variant.”