Omicron-specific coronavirus boosters could save 90,000 lives: research

Omicron-specific coronavirus boosters could save 90,000 lives: research

Omicron-specific bivalent COVID-19 boosters could potentially prevent tens of thousands of deaths in the United States and save billions of dollars in healthcare costs if a successful vaccination campaign is conducted, new research suggests.

New projections released by the Commonwealth Fund on Wednesday showed around 90,000 coronavirus deaths could be averted if 80% of eligible people received the updated booster by the end of this year.

The screening included people as young as five years old, taking into account Pfizer’s recent request for permission to administer its new booster to younger children. This application has not yet been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and only children as young as 12 are currently permitted to receive omicron-specific booster shots.

Only about half of the US population received their first boosters, and only about two-thirds of the population completed the primary two-dose regimen needed to be eligible for the bivalent booster.

Data from a September Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that only about a third of adults said they planned to get the updated reminder, and about 5% said they had already received it.

The Commonwealth Fund projection also estimated that more than 930,000 hospitalizations, $56 billion in medical costs and nearly 26 million infections could also be averted if a widespread and accelerated vaccination campaign were carried out between October and December.

In a more conservative projection – one that worked in a scenario in which booster coverage matched that of flu vaccine coverage during the 2020-2021 flu season – the Commonwealth Fund found that more than 75,000 deaths and 745 000 hospitalizations could be avoided. During the 2020-2021 flu season, about 52% of people over the age of six months got the flu shot.

Data from a recent National Foundation for Infectious Diseases survey found that flu vaccination may mirror previous years, with 49% saying they plan to get a flu shot.

The White House has encouraged people to get their flu shots and get their COVID-19 shots at the same time, with Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra saying in September, “I really believe it’s is why God gave us two arms.

The Commonwealth Fund also projected a potential scenario in which booster use would continue at its current rate until March 2023. If a winter surge were to occur while vaccination rates remained at their current rate, the organization estimated that the United States could see a surge of cases. peaking at 16,000 a day with 1,200 daily deaths at the end of March.

Coronavirus cases and deaths have declined steadily after peaking in July due to the spread of the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants. Although these novel sublines of the COVID-19 virus have been observed to better evade the immune protection afforded by previous vaccinations and infections, health experts have said that the protection afforded by the primary vaccination should still be effective in preventing serious illnesses that could lead to hospitalization and death.

“As population immunity wanes and new variants capable of evading protection from previous vaccines and natural infections continue to emerge, increases in hospitalizations and deaths over the fall and coming winter are increasingly likely,” the Commonwealth Fund said in a statement.

“The recent FDA approval of bivalent boosters presents an opportunity to curb transmission; an aggressive vaccination campaign could avert a wave of hospitalizations and deaths, and save money in the process.

The foundation acknowledged that there were limitations in these projections, including the lack of human data proving the effectiveness of bivalent recall against BA.4 and BA.5 as well as the exclusion of other factors like motivated contacts. by vacation.

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