Introduction: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection is one of the major causes of respiratory illness in infants, infecting virtually every child before the age of 2 years. Currently, several Phase 1 trials with RSV vaccines in infants are ongoing or have been completed. As yet, no efficacy estimates are available for these vaccine candidates. Nevertheless, cost-effectiveness estimates might be informative to enable preliminary positioning of an RSV vaccine.
Methods: A decision analysis model was developed in which a Dutch birth cohort was followed for 12 months. A number of potential vaccination strategies were reviewed such as vaccination at specific ages, a two- or three-dosing scheme and seasonal vaccination versus year-round vaccination. The impact of the assumptions made was explored in various sensitivity analyses, including probabilistic analysis. Outcome measures included the number of GP visits, hospitalizations and deaths, costs, quality-adjusted life years and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs).
Results: Currently, without vaccination, an annual number of 28,738 of RSV-related GP visits, 1623 hospitalizations, and 4.5 deaths are estimated in children in the age of 0-1 year. The total annual cost to society of RSV in the non-vaccination scenario is €7.7 million (95%CI: 1.7-16.7) and the annual disease burden is estimated at 597 QALYs (95%CI: 133-1319). In case all infants would be offered a potentially safe and effective 3-dose RSV vaccination scheme at the age of 0, 1 and 3 months, the total annual net costs were estimated to increase to €21.2 million, but 544 hospitalizations and 1.5 deaths would be averted. The ICER was estimated at €34,142 (95%CI: € 21,652-€ 87,766) per QALY gained. A reduced dose schedule, seasonal vaccination, and consideration of out-of-pocket expenses all resulted in more favorable ICER values, whereas a reduced vaccine efficacy or a delay in the timing of vaccination resulted in less favorable ICERs.
Discussion: Our model used recently updated estimates on the burden of RSV disease in children and it included plausible utilities. However, due to the absence of clinical trial data, a number of crucial assumptions had to be made related to the characteristics of potential RSV vaccine. The outcomes of our modeling exercise show that vaccination of infants against RSV might be cost-effective. However, clinical trial data are warranted.
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