High COVID-19 Vaccine Coverage by Summer Could Prevent Millions of Cases

Killian Meara

Killian Meara, assistant editor for ContagionLive, joined the MJH Life Sciences team in November 2020. He graduated from William Paterson University with a degree in liberal studies, and concentrations in history and psychology. He enjoys film, reading, and pretending he is a good cook. Follow him on Twitter @krmeara or email him at [email protected]

Reaching a vaccination rate of 50% by July of 2021 could prevent 5.8 million cases and 215,790 hospitalizations.

A recent study conducted by investigators from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy, in collaboration with the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, has found that even small increases in current COVID-19 vaccinations by the summer could prevent hospitalizations and save countless lives.

Results from the study were published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

"The longer it takes to reach higher vaccination coverage levels and herd immunity thresholds, the more the virus can spread," Bruce Y Lee, a senior author of the study said. "It may be particularly important to reach higher coverage levels before the late fall to prevent another winter surge."

For the study, the team of investigators developed a computer simulation model that showed the spread of COVID-19 throughout the entire United States.

They then used the model to simulate varying levels of vaccinations in the population with different vaccines. The model allowed for the virtual people to become infected with the virus, show different symptoms and visit clinics or hospitals.

Findings from the study showed that increasing the vaccination rate from 30% of the population to 40% could stop roughly 24.3 million additional cases of infection and save $33.1 billion dollars in direct medical costs and productivity losses.

Additionally, going from 50% to 70% could stop another 9.5 million cases and $10.8 billion dollars in costs.

Also emphasized was the importance of reaching higher levels of vaccination as soon as possible, with 5.8 million cases being stopped and 215,790 hospitalizations being prevented if we were to reach 50% coverage by July 2021.

"The results of this study can give policymakers, community leaders, and other decision makers a sense of how much can be invested into vaccinating those who may be harder to get vaccinated," Sarah Bartsch, lead author on the study said. "Such investments may end up paying for themselves. For example, the potential cost savings exceed the $1.5 billion Biden Administration community outreach and media campaign. Our results show that increasing total vaccination coverage by just one percent could cover the costs of this effort."