A Bayesian network analysis quantifying risks versus benefits of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Australia

NPJ Vaccines. 2022 Aug 11;7(1):93. doi: 10.1038/s41541-022-00517-6.


The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is associated with increased myocarditis incidence. Constantly evolving evidence regarding incidence and case fatality of COVID-19 and myocarditis related to infection or vaccination, creates challenges for risk-benefit analysis of vaccination. Challenges are complicated further by emerging evidence of waning vaccine effectiveness, and variable effectiveness against variants. Here, we build on previous work on the COVID-19 Risk Calculator (CoRiCal) by integrating Australian and international data to inform a Bayesian network that calculates probabilities of outcomes for the delta variant under different scenarios of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine coverage, age groups (≥12 years), sex, community transmission intensity and vaccine effectiveness. The model estimates that in a population where 5% were unvaccinated, 5% had one dose, 60% had two doses and 30% had three doses, there was a substantially greater probability of developing (239-5847 times) and dying (1430-384,684 times) from COVID-19-related than vaccine-associated myocarditis (depending on age and sex). For one million people with this vaccine coverage, where transmission intensity was equivalent to 10% chance of infection over 2 months, 68,813 symptomatic COVID-19 cases and 981 deaths would be prevented, with 42 and 16 expected cases of vaccine-associated myocarditis in males and females, respectively. These results justify vaccination in all age groups as vaccine-associated myocarditis is generally mild in the young, and there is unequivocal evidence for reduced mortality from COVID-19 in older individuals. The model may be updated to include emerging best evidence, data pertinent to different countries or vaccines and other outcomes such as long COVID.