Is a COVID-19 Vaccine Likely to Make Things Worse?

Vaccines (Basel). 2020 Dec 14;8(4):761. doi: 10.3390/vaccines8040761.


In order to limit the disease burden and economic costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to understand how effective and widely distributed a vaccine must be in order to have a beneficial impact on public health. To evaluate the potential effect of a vaccine, we developed risk equations for the daily risk of COVID-19 infection both currently and after a vaccine becomes available. Our risk equations account for the basic transmission probability of COVID-19 (β) and the lowered risk due to various protection options: physical distancing; face coverings such as masks, goggles, face shields or other medical equipment; handwashing; and vaccination. We found that the outcome depends significantly on the degree of vaccine uptake: if uptake is higher than 80%, then the daily risk can be cut by 50% or more. However, if less than 40% of people get vaccinated and other protection options are abandoned-as may well happen in the wake of a COVID-19 vaccine-then introducing even an excellent vaccine will produce a worse outcome than our current situation. It is thus critical that effective education strategies are employed in tandem with vaccine rollout.

Keywords: COVID-19; latin hypercube sampling; partial rank correlation coefficients; risk equations; vaccine.