In the two years since their development COVID-19 vaccinations have prevented more than 18.5 million hospitalizations in the US and saved more than 3 million lives and $1.15 trillion in medical costs.
Those findings emerge from a recently-released study looking at the impact of the US’s COVID-19 vaccination program on reducing infections, hospitalizations, and deaths from the disease. According to the study’s authors, the US has administered more than 655 million doses of vaccine since December 2020, with about 80% of the country’s having gotten at least one dose.
The authors—researchers from the University of Maryland, York University, and Yale University—arrived at their findings by developing a computer model of COVID-19 transmission that incorporates factors such as US population demographics and comorbidity prevalence, and age-specific risks of severe health outcomes from contracting the disease. Their research was supported by a grant from The Commonwealth Fund.
They used the model to simulate the pandemic’s trajectory without vaccinations and compared those outcomes to the actual numbers of infections, hospitalizations and deaths that occurred between December 2020 and November 2022, and estimated cost savings based on the averted outcomes.
“The swift development of the vaccine, emergency authorization to distribute widely, and rapid rollout have been instrumental on curbing hospitalization and death, while mitigating socioeconomic repercussions of the pandemic,” they write.
In addition to protection against the original version of COVID, they say, the vaccines have minimized the impact of its variants. OMICRON, in particular, has been milder because of the protection afforded by vaccines.
They add that the study may have underestimated the vaccine’s domestic impact since it did not account for the effect of US-developed vaccines on the disease’s trajectory elsewhere. Their absence could have led to the emergence of more variants or importation of more cases into the U.S.
As of mid-December, the US had recorded 1 084 651 deaths from COVID, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and had distributed a total of 926 257 435 vaccine doses. About 69% of the population had received both doses of the vaccine, and 13.5% had gotten a bivalent booster dose.