Modeling the impact of child vaccination (5-11 y) on overall COVID-19 related hospitalizations and mortality in a context of omicron variant predominance and different vaccination coverage paces in Brazil

Lancet Reg Health Am. 2023 Jan:17:100396. doi: 10.1016/j.lana.2022.100396. Epub 2022 Nov 17.


Background: Developing countries have experienced significant COVID-19 disease burden. With the emergence of new variants, particularly omicron, the disease burden in children has increased. When the first COVID-19 vaccine was approved for use in children aged 5-11 years of age, very few countries recommended vaccination due to limited risk-benefit evidence for vaccination of this population. In Brazil, ranking second in the global COVID-19 death toll, the childhood COVID-19 disease burden increased significantly in early 2022. This prompted a risk-benefit assessment of the introduction and scaling-up of COVID-19 vaccination of children.

Methods: To estimate the potential impact of vaccinating children aged 5-11 years with mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine in the context of omicron dominance, we developed a discrete-time SEIR-like model stratified in age groups, considering a three-month time horizon. We considered three scenarios: No vaccination, slow, and maximum vaccination paces. In each scenario, we estimated the potential reduction in total COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, deaths, hospitalization costs, and potential years of life lost, considering the absence of vaccination as the base-case scenario.

Findings: We estimated that vaccinating at a maximum pace could prevent, between mid-January and April 2022, about 26,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations, and 4200 deaths in all age groups; of which 5400 hospitalizations and 410 deaths in children aged 5-11 years. Continuing vaccination at a slow/current pace would prevent 1450 deaths and 9700 COVID-19 hospitalizations in all age groups in this same time period; of which 180 deaths and 2390 hospitalizations in children only.

Interpretation: Maximum vaccination of children results in a significant reduction of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths and should be enforced in developing countries with significant disease incidence in children.

Funding: This manuscript was funded by the Brazilian Council for Scientific and Technology Development (CNPq - Process # 402834/2020-8).

Keywords: COVID-19 vaccines; Children; Infectious disease modeling; SARS-CoV-2 variants; Vaccination.