The impact of vaccination on COVID-19 outbreaks in the United States

medRxiv. 2021 Jan 2:2020.11.27.20240051. doi: 10.1101/2020.11.27.20240051. Preprint


Background: Global vaccine development efforts have been accelerated in response to the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. We evaluated the impact of a 2-dose COVID-19 vaccination campaign on reducing incidence, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States (US).

Methods: We developed an agent-based model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and parameterized it with US demographics and age-specific COVID-19 outcomes. Healthcare workers and high-risk individuals were prioritized for vaccination, while children under 18 years of age were not vaccinated. We considered a vaccine efficacy of 95% against disease following 2 doses administered 21 days apart achieving 40% vaccine coverage of the overall population within 284 days. We varied vaccine efficacy against infection, and specified 10% pre-existing population immunity for the base-case scenario. The model was calibrated to an effective reproduction number of 1.2, accounting for current non-pharmaceutical interventions in the US.

Results: Vaccination reduced the overall attack rate to 4.6% (95% CrI: 4.3% - 5.0%) from 9.0% (95% CrI: 8.4% - 9.4%) without vaccination, over 300 days. The highest relative reduction (54-62%) was observed among individuals aged 65 and older. Vaccination markedly reduced adverse outcomes, with non-ICU hospitalizations, ICU hospitalizations, and deaths decreasing by 63.5% (95% CrI: 60.3% - 66.7%), 65.6% (95% CrI: 62.2% - 68.6%), and 69.3% (95% CrI: 65.5% - 73.1%), respectively, across the same period.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that vaccination can have a substantial impact on mitigating COVID-19 outbreaks, even with limited protection against infection. However, continued compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions is essential to achieve this impact.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; United States; outbreak simulation; pandemic; vaccines.

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  • Preprint